EU extends Russian economic sanctions

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The EU has agreed to extend its current package of economic sanctions against Russia until the end of January 2016.

And it’s a development that may well have a knock-on effect for local agriculture according to Ulster Farmers’ Union CEO Wesley Aston, pictured.

The EU’s decision was taken against the backdrop of Russia’s continuing ceasefire violations in Ukraine.

“There is little doubt that Moscow will respond in kind by extending its own ban on EU food imports, said Aston.

“This could well have an impact on our dairy and pig sectors. But the EU has always said that Europe’s farmers will not be allowed to suffer because of political decisions taken in Brussels. And we will be holding the European Commission to this commitment.

“Our first priority will be to secure a revision of the current intervention arrangements for dairy products.”

Conor Mulvihill, the European Affairs’ representative of the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society (ICOS) agrees with this analysis.

He added that an extension of the food import ban by Russia would not be as bad this time around, as was the case at the time of its introduction last August.

“We have seen a more than significant devaluation of the Ruble since the beginning of 2015. This makes food exports to Russia less economically attractive than would have been the case prior to the ban having been introduced.

“In addition, food companies in the UK and the Republic of Ireland have found alternative markets for product they would have traditionally sold to Russian buyers.”

Mulvihill also confirmed that Russia has targeted a number of individual EU member states over recent months in a divide and conquer in response to the economic sanctions introduced by Brussels.

“This was met by a very firm response from the EU Commission. So we will have to wait and see how Russia plays this out over the coming months.”