MOSCOW Aug 20 Russia's government has eased
some self-imposed bans on Western food, allowing imports of
material that could be used to boost its own agricultural
industry and softening the costs on some firms in neighbour
Earlier this month, Russia banned all meat, fish, dairy,
fruit and vegetable imports from the United States, the European
Union, Norway, Canada, and Australia for one year to retaliate
again sanctions slapped on Moscow over the Ukraine crisis.
The tough bans isolated Russia from Western goods to levels
unseen since Soviet Union times, while also leading to sharp
price drops and financial problems at many European food
companies, deprived of a large market.
On Wednesday, the Russian government said it would allow
imports of hatchlings of salmon and trout as well as seed of
potatoes and seed of onion, sugar maize hybrid for planting and
peas for planting.
Russia has been importing up to 50 percent of fish from
Norway and prices for salmon shot up steeply in Russia in recent
days. The government said it would encourage imports of salmon
from Chile and help develop its own fish farming.
On Wednesday, the government also said the bans would
exclude lactose-free milk and products, biologically active
supplements, vitamin-mineral complexes, flavour additives,
protein concentrates of animal and plant origin and their
mixtures, food fibres and food additives including complex ones.
Finland's dairy cooperative Valio, the company hardest hit
by the bans in the country, said the decision on lactose-free
milk products was good for the firm.
"This means a great deal to us as lactose-free products are
very popular in Russia and stand for about 10 percent of our
Russian exports," said spokeswoman Pia Kontunen.
Valio had earlier calculated its share of Finnish exports
hit by Russia's original food sanctions was as much as 85
percent, or 240 million euros.
(Reporting by Polina Devitt in Moscow, Barbara Lewis in
Brussels and Jussi Rosendahl in Helsinki; Writing by Dmitry
Zhdannikov; Editing by Crispian Balmer)