MOSCOW – Russia is banning imports from 19 US poultry suppliers as of Monday, and considering blacklisting 29 others, due to health concerns, the Russian veterinary control agency said.
The ban follows a failure by the 19 businesses to provide test results measuring the levels of antibiotics and arsenic in their products, the Rosselkhoznadzor agency in a statement issued Friday.
Russia is the largest export market for US poultry.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday announced the decision in an interview with CNN television on the Georgia conflict and Russia’s decision to recognise the independence of two breakaway Georgian regions.
“I want to add a disclaimer that it is not at all connected to Abkhazia or South Ossetia,” Putin said.
The former Kremlin leader said the US poultry ban was decided after Russian health officials carried out checks of the companies and found that they had “ignored recommendations our experts made in 2007.”
Among the 29 US firms that may also be banned are Tyson Foods, Peco Foods and Equity Group, said the statement from the agency.
Meanwhile, Turkey will retaliate against its top trade partner Russia, which is holding thousands of Turkish trucks for inspection at border customs posts, Foreign Trade Minister Kursad Tuzmen said on Friday.
The measures, which he did not detail, will be put into force on Monday. “(Russia’s) restrictions are against the World Trade Organization’s rules and are non-tariff barriers,” Tuzmen told a news conference.
Russia says lengthy inspections of trucks from NATO-member Turkey, which coincide with tension between Moscow and the military alliance over the Caucasus, where Russia this month fought a short war with Georgia, are due to a new customs law.
Unlike its Western allies, Turkey has refrained from strong condemnations of Russian actions since the outbreak of a brief war between Russia and Georgia earlier this month, fearing this could hurt its vital economic ties with Russia.
But Russia has denounced as a “provocation” a US and NATO naval presence in the Black Sea, entrance to which is via the Turkish-controlled Bosphorus Strait. Turkey depends on Russian energy supplies, but is also a transit route for Russian energy exports, Tuzmen said.
Turkish businesses are concerned they could lose $3 billion in the short term if the delays at border crossings continue.
Trade with Russia has grown steadily since the collapse of the Soviet Union and is expected to top $38 billion this year.
Russia, Turkey’s main supplier of natural gas, is the biggest market for Turkey’s construction firms and millions of Russian tourists visit Turkey’s Mediterranean coast every year. – Agencies