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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Moldova Rejects Unfounded Russian Ban on Fruit and Vegetable Imports

In the latest episode of strained relations between Moscow and Moldova, pro-European authorities in Moldova have dismissed Russia’s recent ban on the import of its fruit and vegetables as baseless. The ban, reinstated by Russia’s farm goods oversight agency, Rosselkhoznadzor, cites the “continuous, systematic observation of elements subject to quarantine,” with claims that Moldova has taken no corrective action.

Moldova’s food safety agency, ANSA, rebuffed the allegations, stating that the restrictions set to take effect on Monday are unrelated to the quality of its goods. ANSA emphasized that no other importing countries had filed complaints, and the decision by Russian authorities lacks phytosanitary principles and real grounding in arguments. The statement asserted, “Laboratory evidence underscores the absence of any harmful organisms.”

This move by Russia marks another chapter in a pattern of periodic bans on farm goods from Moldova over the past two decades, often coinciding with diplomatic downturns between the two nations. President Maia Sandu, leading Moldova’s efforts to join the European Union, has openly criticized Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, accusing Moscow of attempting to orchestrate a coup against her and meddling in local elections.

Tensions escalated further as Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, addressing Western criticism of Moscow’s Ukraine conflict, suggested that Moldova was “being readied as the next victim in the hybrid war that the West unleashed against Russia.” However, he did not provide further details.

Moldovan producers, anticipating the ban, noted that Russia strategically imposed the measures when Moldovan goods flood the market. Despite this, Iurie Fala, Executive Director of the Moldovan Fruit Producers Association, stated, “We have managed partly to reorient markets for Moldovan apples. We ship to 28 countries. There is a shortage of apples this year on EU markets, and that will boost our sales.”

In conclusion, the trade restrictions imposed by Russia on Moldovan agricultural products appear to be driven by political tensions rather than genuine concerns about the quality of goods. Moldovan authorities stand firm in rejecting the allegations, emphasizing the lack of supporting evidence. As diplomatic relations continue to strain, Moldovan producers express resilience, seeking alternative markets and potential opportunities in the face of these challenges.

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