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Russian food ban puzzles Greek government

The Foreign Ministry will immediately establish a working group for the monitoring of Greek exports to Russia, the administration of relevant issues which emerge, as well as the coordination of all pertinent actions. The working group, which will consist of ministerial officials, as well as sectoral and export representatives, will also be exploring any expansion prospects to new markets, for Greek export goods.


This was decided on Thursday during the extraordinary meeting called by the Foreign Ministry for discussing the potential fallout following Vladimir Putin's announcenment of retaliatory measures against a series of sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU in the framework of the Ukrainian crisis.

In 2013 Greek exports to Russia were worth a total of 178 million euros but they have already suffered a dip this year. According to the Panhellenic Exporters Association, the value of Greek exports to Russia was down 23.9 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to 2013, falling from 82.9 million euros to 63 million.

Apart from ministerial dignitaries, representatives from the Hellenic Federation of Enterprises (SEV), the Federation of Industries of Northern Greece (SVVE), the Panhellenic Exporters Association (PSE), the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EVEA) and many more regional and professional associations, federations and chambers from all over Greece, attended the meeting.

Ministry officials as well as export and industry representatives expressed cautious optimism over Greece’s exports to Russia.

A total of five food-product groups are included in the official import prohibition list that Russia compiled as a reaction to a series of sanctions aimed against it by the USA, the EU and many Western states, in the framework of the Ukrainian crisis. These food groups include meat and sausages, seafood, vegetables, fruits and dairy products.

European agriculture officials will on Monday set up a task force to analyse the impact of a Russian ban on EU food imports and expect to call an emergency meeting to coordinate an EU response, the European Commission said.

Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos will return to Brussels at the weekend and on Monday his department will set up a task force to work out the impact of Russia's ban, the Commission, the EU executive, said.

The commissioner has already been in contact with the Italian and French agriculture ministers and others.

Roughly 10 percent of EU agricultural exports go to Russia, worth around 11 billion euros, per year, according to Commission figures.

"The loss of one market does not mean that we cannot export our healthy, quality products elsewhere in the world," Commission spokesman Roger Waite said.

The food groups banned from being imported into Russia do not include baby food, alcoholic drinks - like Greek wine - and olive oil, but include olives and all vegetables, which affects Greek produce exported to Russia.

Russian import bans will take effect immediately upon the following list of banned imports:

  • cattle meat, fresh, chilled or frozen;

  • pork, fresh, chilled or frozen;

  • poultry and its sub-products, fresh, chilled or frozen;

  • all salted, dried or smoked meats;

  • fish, shellfish, scallops and other aquatic invertebrates;

  • milk and dairy products;

  • vegetables;

  • fruits;

  • nuts;

  • sausage and similar meat products;

  • cheese and similar products based on vegetable oils;

  • food items containing milk, vegetable oils.