RIGA - Officials say Russia is lifting a ban on vegetable imports from five EU countries, imposed in early June to stem an E. coli outbreak, reports the Associated Press. The country’s consumer rights watchdog said in a statement on Aug. 8 that it would allow the import of raw vegetables from Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia starting on Aug. 9. Exporters from other EU nations had earlier been granted exemption from the ban.
The E. coli outbreak killed 52 people, including 50 in Germany and one each in Sweden and the United States, and sickened more than 4,300.
It was just last week that the ban, still in place, was being blamed by Latvian authorities not because of incomplete documents presented by the Latvian side, but due to an unclear definition of what documents were actually necessary for Russia, said State Plant Protection Service’s Director Kristine Kjago to business portal Nozare.lv.
“The Russian side has not actually formulated what documents need to be corrected and what kind of documents have not yet been presented, but we continue talks to reach agreement, and we on our part have done everything we should have done,” said Kjago.
Russia maintained the ban until this week, claiming that the Baltic States had not submitted all the necessary documents.
At the end of June, Russia finally resumed vegetable import from Netherlands and Belgium, and at the beginning of July from Spain and Denmark. Later on, vegetable import was also resumed from the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Italy and Hungary.
Last year, Latvia’s exports of fresh vegetables to third countries accounted for 10 percent of the total amount of fresh vegetables produced in the country. Onions and cabbages were mostly exported from Latvia to Russia last year.
The European Union exports 1.1 million tons of vegetables, worth around 600 million euros to Russia every year.