MOSCOW, August 18 (RIA Novosti) – European food producers are reported to be looking for ways around the Russian ban in a bid to smuggle their excess milk, meat and vegetables into the Russian market – and Switzerland is but one of the routes under consideration, according to the Swiss agriculture authority.
Switzerland has been exempt from Russia’s food embargo that targets the European Union – as well as the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway – since it is not a member of the 28-nation bloc. It does have a free-trade agreement with the Eurozone.
Anne Rizzoli, a media spokeswoman for the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG), which is an agriculture authority under the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, told Izvestia newspaper that her country had been contacted by various importers of foods and agricultural products from Europe, trying to smuggle embargoed goods into Russia via third countries.
The FOAG communications chief refused to name companies and nations that approached the Swiss office for agriculture, citing “security concerns.”
Registration procedure for Russia-bound importers in Switzerland remains unchanged, Rizzoli added. She stressed that her country was not responsible for goods that are shipped onward to Russia.
The European Milk Board, a federation of European dairy farmers and their lobbyists, earlier confirmed in an interview with Izvestia that EMB members were looking at Switzerland and possibly South American countries as they explored routes to sidestep Russia’s imports ban.
EMB Vice President Sieta van Keimpema said to the daily that, “European products, earmarked for Russia, will be delivered there through these countries.”
On August 6, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill on economic measures to protect the country’s security. The decree went into effect the next day, effectively banning imports of agricultural and food products from the countries that had imposed sanctions on Russia over the Ukrainian crisis for one year.
The list includes meat, fish, poultry and milk products, nuts, fruits and vegetables, but not infant foods or goods.