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Serbia suspected of re-exporting EU fruit and veg to Russia
Moscow considers it suspicious that Serbia's fruit and vegetable exports to Russia have increased significantly this year. It is suspected that Serbia has been re-exporting fruit from European Union countries into Russia, even though the entry of such products is banned, announced on Tuesday the Belgrade daily Politika.
Moscow therefore demanded from Belgrade that by 2 October, it should report from what fruit and vegetable plantations the products came from and thus prove that the goods were not obtained elsewhere.
Branislav Nedimovic, Serbian Minister of Agriculture, confirmed the news and announced that all the requested information will be sent to Moscow next Monday. He added that it is a fact that exports to Russia are growing, but that is because the acreage devoted to vegetables and fruits is expanding, and more and more people are deciding to work in agriculture.
According to the Ministry, vegetable exports to Russia have grown by 22 percent in the first eight months of the year, while fruit exports have increased by 10 percent compared to the same period last year. By July, Serbia had sold 211 million dollars’ worth of agricultural products to the Russian market, an increase of $ 30 million compared to the first half of 2016.
According to a source, Moscow believes that the re-export of apples is the most likely, as last year, according to official data, Serbia exported 220,000 tonnes of apples, and 75% of this volume ended up in the Russian market.
This is a huge increase compared to ten years earlier, given that in 2006 Serbia managed to export 35,000 tonnes of apples. According to the statement, it is true that the agricultural acreage has expanded and the quality of the crops has increased, but according to unofficial data, 15-25 percent of apples are imported from abroad, mainly from Poland, and those goods are also shipped to Russia.
The Serbian Minister did not rule out any abuse, but he also stated that they are constantly monitoring crops for export.
Similar abuses have led Russia to limit fruit and vegetable exports from Ukraine and Albania.
Publication date: 9/27/2017
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