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    Netherlands Hopes for Better Russia Ties Amid Declining Trade

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    The Netherlands hopes for improved bilateral relations with Russia amid declining trade between the two countries, a spokesman for the Dutch foreign trade minister told Sputnik on Wednesday.

    MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The spokesman pointed out that trade between the countries has declined by a third since 2014. He added that the areas hit worse were the dairy and meat sectors, with agricultural companies in general losing about a fifth of their total export volumes.

    "It is important that the dialogue is being maintained, both on a political and economic level… Certainly, we hope relations can be improved again, to this end, the Minsk criteria need to be fulfilled,"  Herman van Gelderen said.

    He attributed the decrease not only to the Western sanctions and Russia’s retaliatory ban on imports of some EU-made products, but mainly to negative trends in Russian economy, like dependence on oil exports and high ruble exchange rate volatility.

    "Nevertheless, 2015 was a record breaking year for Dutch agricultural export. Export has never been as high: €80 billion," he added.

    His comments come on the heels of the recent statement by the founder and leader of the Dutch Party for Freedom Geert Wilders, who said that restoring ties with Russia should be a priority for the traditionally trade-oriented Netherlands.

    According to statistical data compiled by the independent web-site "Russian Exports-National Information Portal," in 2015 Dutch-Russian bilateral trade decreased in volume by 34 percent, dipping to $21.4 billion compared to $32.4 billion the year before.

    Ties between Russia and the European Union suffered a severe blow after Crimea became part of Russia in 2014 and the West accusing Moscow of meddling in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, imposing political and economical sanctions on Russia. The Kremlin has repeatedly refuted the accusations and introduced counter measures on a list of EU products.

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    food embargo, Russia, Netherlands
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