RIGA - For sanctions to be effective, the ban on Russian grain imports must be imposed at the EU level, Economics Minister Viktors Valainis (Greens/Farmers) said Monday after the weekly coalition meeting.
The minister underlined that all sanctions, including national measures, must be as effective as possible. In Valainis' view, the work started by the ministers of agriculture and transport must continue to increasingly raise these issues on the European level.
"If we want to achieve an effective result, we need to ensure that these sanctions are introduced across the EU," the minister said.
Prime Minister Evika Silina (New Unity) has requested information on cereal imports from Russia. The prime minister said that she is awaiting an assessment on the amount of grain currently entering Latvia from Russia, whether these shipments also also contain Ukrainian grain, and what losses have been caused.
This, however, is not just a matter of money, Silina said, adding that Latvia along with other EU member states has committed to supplying food to African countries.
At the same time, the prime minister noted that the Cabinet of Ministers had decided on the agriculture minister's position at the upcoming EU meeting, which will express Latvia's support for a ban on Russian grain imports.
As reported, last year Latvia imported 200,000 tons more food cereals from Russia than in 2022, Iveta Sice-Trede, Director of the Border Control Department of the Food and Veterinary Service, told LETA.
In 2023, more than 535,000 tons of food grains were imported from Russia into the European Union through Latvian border checkpoints, including 122,000 tons in December. This represents an increase of almost 200,000 tons of food grains imported from Russia as compared to 337,000 tons of food grains imported from Russia into the EU in 2022.
All food grain shipments from Russia complied with the applicable requirements, added Sice-Trede.
The Food and Veterinary Serevice has no information on how much of the imported food grains remained in Latvia last year and how much was further transported to other EU countries.
As reported, Latvia is the second largest importer of Russian agricultural and food products in the EU after Spain, according to an informative report on imports of Russian agricultural and food products in Latvia prepared by the Agriculture Ministry.