Belarus, Russia customs services doing best to stop sanctioned imports of EU food – state-run news agency

The State Customs Committee of Belarus in association with the Federal Customs Service of Russia has suppressed a number of schemes used to deliver sanctioned goods to the Russian Federation, state-owned news agency BelTA reports.

One of the schemes used by the perpetrators involved the initial legal import of sanctioned products into Belarus to Belarusian businessmen but later on these products were illegally transported to Russia and Kazakhstan. Requisites of phoenix companies were used to transport these products.

Another scheme involved the transportation of sanctioned goods under the guise of Belarus-made products or products originating from Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast. For example, in September several chefs in Moscow noticed a fake after supplies of Parmesan cheese were delivered to their restaurants. It was the same cheese they got before the sanctions, but it had a label ‘Made in Belarus’.

Some other schemes involve setting up phony companies in Kazakhstan for the sake of legalisation purposes and their use for transporting sanctioned products to Russia.

In August Russia imposed an embargos on a broad range of European farm produce in the tit-for-tat trade war sparked by the crisis in Ukraine.

According to independent and foreign media, Belarus gains profits by purchasing food products ‘made in the EU’, ‘editing’ some inscription on their packages or processing them and then delivering to its eastern neighbour who took retaliation measures against the bloc for its sanctions list and support of Ukraine.

According to the Norwegian newspaper Dagens Naeringsliv, salmon supplies from Norway to Belarus have been increased threefold for the first week of September. In such a way the Norwegian companies are skirting Russia’s ban imposed on EU’s food suppliers.

“Every day Belarusian trucks come to a Polish dairy  to transport some 100,000 litres of milk back to Belarus”, reported in early October. Until recently this milk was directly sold to Russia. But after Moscow banned European food products from entering Russia, sales have tumbled by 30 %.

Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia’s veterinary and phytosanitary agency said in late September it may restrict imports from certain Belarusian fish and dairy companies amid rising health fears as supplies of fish from Norway and dairy products from Lithuania and Poland to the neighbouring republic increase.

The Belarusian customs service is aware of the schemes mentioned above, BelTA has been told.

“Belarusian customs officers regularly sit together with Russian counterparts to analyse these schemes and improve the detection of similar schemes,” the agency reports referring to the press service of Belarus’s Customs.

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