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Russia May Ban Fruit Imports from Serbia over Re-Export Suspicions

The two countries have a free-trade agreement

MOSCOW, March 23. /TASS/. Russia may ban imports of fruits and vegetables from Serbia over suspicions of re-exports of apples from the EU countries, Yulia Trofimova, spokeswoman with the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) told TASS on Monday.

She said the watchdog has sent a request to the Serbian colleagues to explain the sharp rise in apple supplies to Russia in February-March. If Serbia fails to provide explanations the restrictions may be imposed, she said.

<figcaption>Bad news for Serbian agriculture </figcaption>
Bad news for Serbian agriculture

In January, Rosselkhoznadzor suspected Serbia of smuggling of fruits and vegetables from the EU. Moscow and Belgrade signed a bilateral document regulating the activities of Serbian exporters.

"Currently this interaction exists only on paper, while the sharp increase in supplies of apples show that there is a probability of re-exports", Trofimova said.

According to the Federal Customs Service, since August 2014 and until February 2015, imports of apples from Serbia to Russia rose 48% to 118,000 tons. In monetary terms apple exports soared 82% to $98 million.

On August 7, 2014 Russia imposed a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway as a response to anti-Russia sanctions imposed by those countries. That ban does not cover Serbia.

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