Reheated Cold War cools exports of fruit and veg

SPANISH exporters are not reassured by the Spanish government’s ‘keep calm’ policy regarding Russian sanctions.

The restrictions were Vladimir Putin’s response to earlier sanctions imposed by the West after a passenger aircraft was shot down over Ukraine by pro-Russian fighters.

According to Spain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Spain stands to lose €337 million in lost exports, although the European Commission places this at €338 million.

Miguel Blanco president of COAG, coordinator of Spain’s growers and farmers, believes the figure is closer to €1.2 billion. “It’s not only direct exports of around €340 million that are affected by the Russian embargo,” Blanco said. “We’re talking about €1.2 billion that will be indirectly affected too.”

According to the Spanish government, the effects of the Russian embargo will be limited. Although Brussels places Spain sixth behind Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Holland and Denmark as the most affected, there are 16 EU countries that will lose more than Spain, the government insisted.

Spain exports goods totalling an annual €234 billion, it claimed, and the lost turnover from Russia will amount to only 0.14 per cent of the total. Limited or not, Agriculture minister Isabel Garcia Tejerina has asked Brussels to take urgent measures to ensure that the market is not flooded with unsold produce destined for Russia. Andalucia and the Valencian Community, which export fruit and vegetables year-round to Russia, expect to feel the greatest impact. Cataluña will also be affected, principally through seasonal exports of peaches, nectarines and plums. The winner here is Latin America which has happily and hastily stepped into the breach left by EU exporters, to the displeasure of Brussels. They have been asked to reconsider their newly-signed contracts. 

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