WELLINGTON, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Russia has lifted a ban on some New Zealand dairy imports, loosening restrictions imposed in 2013 as the country experiences a dairy shortage due to its ongoing ban on milk products from European countries.
New Zealand’s agriculture ministry on Wednesday confirmed that Russia has removed a ban on some dairy products, which had been banned after New Zealand dairy exporter Fonterra mistakenly detected a botulism-causing toxin in one of its products two years ago.
“We can confirm that the temporary restrictions have been lifted on 29 New Zealand dairy plants for some products such as anhydrous milk fat and whey and whey concentrates,” New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries said in a statement.
“We’re continuing to work with the Russian authorities to lift the temporary restrictions on the remaining products produced at those 29 plants.”
The lifting of the ban comes after Russia in June extended its ban on food imports from Western countries by one year in retaliation to the extension of European sanctions against Moscow over Ukraine.
“This is clearly a step in the right direction,” Trade Minister Tim Groser said in an interview with Radio New Zealand, adding that the initial ban had included roughly 60 plants.
“What we now want to do is have a constructive discussion ... with the appropriate Russian authorities to remove the remaining restrictions on plants and different products.”
New Zealand dairy exports to Russia have eased since the ban was imposed, accounting for 0.6 percent of total exports in 2014, down from 0.9 percent in 2012, according to official New Zealand trade figures.
Russia continues to buy New Zealand butter, which was excluded from the ban. The country had been one of the world’s biggest importers of butter before it imposed a ban on European dairy products last year. (Reporting by Naomi Tajitsu; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)