Russia won’t lift French food ban – Agriculture Minister

© Philippe Wojazer
French Agriculture Minister Stefane Le Foll is in Moscow in a bid to lift Russia's food embargo which he says has cost France at least €280 million. Le Foll’s Russian counterpart Aleksandr Tkachev says that is not possible because of EU anti-Russian sanctions.

“Unfortunately, we can state that in terms of sanctions, France is an integral part of the EU. Of course, we cannot give France such an opportunity [to supply products under Russian embargo]", Tkachev told reporters on Friday.

Russia makes up only 0.64 percent of French agricultural exports compared with 1.26 percent in 2014, said the French minister in an interview to the Interfax news agency.

“However, the effect of [Russia's] food ban was a decline in prices in the European market due to oversupply. Therefore, it’s very difficult to estimate the actual damage, which varies depending on the sector,” said Le Foll.

On Friday, Le Foll and Tkachev are discussing products that were not included in the Russian embargo. France is interested in continuing food supplies that were halted at the beginning of 2014 by Russia due to cases of African swine fever in Poland and the Baltics.

In August 2014, Moscow banned food products from countries that imposed sanctions against Russia - the US, the EU, Canada, Australia and Norway. Embargoed products include meat, sausages, fish and seafood, vegetables, fruit and dairy products. In June 2015, in response to the extension of sanctions from the West, Russia extended its reciprocal embargo by a year.