ECONOMY

Russia’s trade ban threat

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Several EU governments are dragging their feet over providing Russia with restyled plant export certificates by a July 1 deadline, risking trade bans from Moscow if they fail to comply, officials said yesterday. In March, Europe and Russia agreed to avoid Moscow’s threat of a blockade of all EU plant and vegetable exports that would have hit some 800 million euros (about $950 million) in annual trade. The bulk of this is represented by cut flowers from the Netherlands. The terms of the deal are that all EU governments must send samples of a single plant safety certificate, replacing 25 differing national versions, by July 1. Few have yet done so. «This is a shot across the bows by the Russians. We are happy to remind the member states that the clock is ticking… and that they have to submit the certificates in time,» one EU official told Reuters. «We didn’t set them a deadline for when they should submit certificates to the Russians. But we do expect, with one exception, that all states are going to meet the deadline.» The European Commission, which negotiated the plant deal with Russia on behalf of the EU-25, asked governments to provide it with two samples of the new single certificate by June 10. By that date, 15 countries had sent their samples to Brussels, while nine others have assured the EU executive body that they would send the samples to Moscow by July 1. One country, Greece, has so far not offered this assurance, officials said. From July 1, Russia would only allow plant product imports that had the single certificate, so any country that had not sent its examples would not be able to continue trade.