The ruling coalition has agreed to ban imports of Russian and Belarusian grain in Latvia.
A relevant bill will be prepared and adopted by Saeima in February, as Prime Minister Evika Silina (New Unity), Agriculture Minister Armands Krauze (Greens/Farmers) and the Progressives Saeima group’s chairman Andris Suvajevs said after a coalition meeting on Monday.
Krauze indicated that from now on, the Food and Veterinary Service will step up controls on grain transit, assessing quality, safety and origin. This is essential in order to determine whether the products are of Russian origin or stolen from the Ukrainian occupied territories.
The agriculture minister noted that Ukraine has established scientific methods and a database EU member states can used to determine whether the grain is of Russian or Ukrainian origin.
The coalition has also agreed that companies using Russian grain in their production will not be eligible for farmers’ support programs, the agriculture minister stressed.
The financial impact of the import ban is currently difficult to predict, the prime minister said.
Latvia has been considering a ban on grain imports from Russia for some time, but so far the ruling coalition has stuck to the position that a joint decision of the entire European Union is needed and that it is unwise for Latvia to adopt it alone, because such restriction would only exist “on paper” as it could easily be circumvented through other EU countries.
As reported, after Spain, Latvia is the second largest importer of Russian agricultural and food products in the EU, according to data from the Agriculture Ministry.
In 2023, Latvia accounted for 12 percent of the EU’s total imports from Russia, becoming the second biggest importer among the bloc’s member states.
The ban of Russian grain imports and transit might cost the Latvian port and railway sectors an estimated EUR 100 million.
The Agriculture Ministry said earlier that if Latvia banned its railway and ports from reloading four million tons of Russian grain and agricultural products, which is the volume projected for 2024, the ports would lose EUR 60 million worth of revenue, while the railway would lose EUR 40 million.
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