Apple growers in a warehouse in Moldova, May 2022. Photo: Moldova Fruct Association/Facebook
Pro-Western Moldovan President Maia Sandu said on Wednesday she did not understand why Russia had imposed a new embargo on Moldovan fruit on August 15, when her country’s produce meets EU quality standards that are higher than Russian standards.
Russia announced last week that it would block products from certain places in Moldova, excluding the Russian-backed breakaway region of Transnistria, on the grounds that they are contaminated with plant pests and diseases. .
“When in the list of Moldovan sites that can no longer export to Russia, there is no site where such problems have been detected, then we wonder whether it is an economic or a political problem” , Sandu told the NordNews website.
Sandu added that the Ministry of Agriculture is negotiating with the Russians, but at the same time the government can look for other markets for the country’s fruit.
Russia is a key market for Moldovan fruit, but Moscow officials have denied the ban was imposed to pressure because Chisinau has shifted politically to the West.
Russia’s state phytosanitary agency Rosselkhoznadzor insisted that products from Moldova “repeatedly violate quality standards”.
“The reason for the ban was the repeated detection of dangerous elements in Moldovan products subject to quarantine upon entering Russia, which the Moldovan side has already been repeatedly informed by the service,” said Iulia Melano, adviser to the director of the Rosselkhoznadzor. , told RIA Novosti.
The restrictions will be applied to most districts in Moldova, except those in the breakaway region of Transnistria, where Russia said it found no quality issues.
Leaders of the pro-Russian Autonomous Region of Gagauzia have meanwhile recently said they want to negotiate directly with Moscow on the export of vegetables and fruits.
Between January and August 2022, Moldova exported around 168,000,000 tons of vegetable and fruit products to Russia – mainly apples, plums, grapes and cherries.
Vegetables and fruits accounted for 8.3% of Moldova’s total exports in January and June, and the value of all exported vegetables and fruits was $34.4 million out of a total of $415.4 million of exported goods.
One of the most important Moldovan products sold on the Russian market is apples, about 90% of which were exported in previous years. Moldova exported 168,000 tons of apples to Russia in 2020 and 231,000 tons in 2021.
However, the Moldavian Fruit Association said apple exports are diversifying. In 2021, the fruit was only sold to four destinations, but in the spring of 2022 Moldovan apples reached consumers in 18 countries.
The EU also increased its quotas for Moldovan products and said it supported increased exports to European markets.