VILNIUS – Lithuanian food producers continue to export their products to China, which has cancelled its next direct freight trains to Lithuania amid rising political tensions between Being and Vilnius, but the State Food and Veterinary Service (SFVS) notes that the process of approving new export permits has stopped.
The authority has not yet received any indications of problems with milk, meat and other product exports to China, but there are some signs already, according to SFVS Director Mantas Staskevicius.
"So far, our office has not directly received any additional questions or indications that something has stopped, but a month ago, the Chinese contacted us and gave a list of certain non-compliances, and one of our beer exporters was taken off the list [of companies] allowed to supply products to China," he told BNS.
Lithuania's talks with China on export permits for feed, non-animal products and edible offal had been growing increasingly difficult since the start of the year and have finally come to a complete stop, according to the official.
"[China's authorities] have stopped the certification process. Questionnaires are not being filled in because of a lack of audits on their side and everything has stopped," he said. "We have not received any indication from their side that the approval of products might stop. They just not doing it. I can't comment on why."
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, China assessed the whole situation in Lithuania, including what safety measures were being taken, the director said.
China's authorities did not express any doubts back then, so it would be strange if they decided to close the Chinese market to Lithuania, he added.
Dalius Trumpa, CEO of Rokiskio Suris, a leading Lithuanian dairy group, says his company has recently signed a contract with a Chinese company for the supply of lactose by rail.
"So far, we have not received any notifications from our partners, but if trains are halted, there will be a question of how to deliver the products to China," he told BNS.
Rokiskio Suris would then export its products by sea, in containers, which would take longer and be more expensive, according to the CEO.
Linas Griksas, CEO of Krekenavos Agrofirma, a Lithuanian meat processor that exports beef to China by sea, says he has not noticed any changes yet, adding that businesses have become “hostage” to the growing political tensions.
"We are, of course, hostages to the situation. We are not part of the process, the government is," he told BNS. "We are not involved; I cannot comment on that."
Lithuania exported 472 tons of beef, 7,700 tons of dairy products and 625 tons of fishery products to China last year, and 553 tons of beef, 3,900 tons of dairy products and 80 tons of fishery products as of August, 2021, according to the State Food and Veterinary Service.