There is no end in sight to the current Russian ban on EU food exports, according to ICOS European Affairs Executive Conor Mulvihill.

ICOS met with Commission trade officials in Brussels recently to discuss the ongoing impact of the Russian Ban on EU agriculture.

According to Mulvihill, while there was some good news in terms of increasing EU Agri Trade to other third countries such as Turkey, China, Switzerland and Hong Kong, especially in the meat sector, the effects of the Russian ban in the sectors of dairy and fruit and vegetables in particular were highlighted.

Figures supplied by the Commission to ICOS covering export figures for the dairy industry show that over the past year show that cheese exports are down 17%, butter is down 5% and dairy powders are down 5% – the latter mainly down to the Russian ban.

The Commission noted that the collapse of the value of the rouble over the past year would have meant that Russian buying powder of EU dairy product would have been severely constrained anyway, Mulvihill said.

However, he also outlined that in terms of a diplomatic solution to the dispute, no good news was had, with relations remaining very frosty and not helped by the Russians attempting to go around the EU negotiators by discussing bilaterally with Greece, Hungary and Cyprus in an attempt to break the EU trading bloc’s solidarity.

The Commission stated that they would not accept a ‘Salami’ tactic of divide and conquer by the Russians, he said.

According to Mulvihill diplomatic relations are ongoing, but at present they are limited to an exchange of letters.

He said ICOS is pushing the Commission to be more proactive on the matter as dairy in particular is suffering in what is really a geopolitical game that has nothing to do with our industry.