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January 22 2018, 10:31 BalkanInsight

Russia Slaps New Ban on Bosnian Apples

Russia has suspended imports of apples from Bosnia and Herzegovina after customs officials found that one company from the eastern Bosnian town of Bijeljina had imported fruit from a third country and re-exported it to Russia, claiming it was from Bosnia, Bosnia’s Plant Protection Directorate said on Friday

Mirko Sarovic, Minister of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations, said Russia had informed Bosnia’s Plant Protection Agency that the imports would stop on 22 January, until this situation was resolved.

“Russia argues that a company in Bijeljina repatriated apples originating in Poland and re-exported them to Russia,” Sarovic said on Friday.

The Inspectorate in Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska, said Russia had notified it that it destroyed the apple consignment, which had been accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate issued from the Brcko District (an administrative unit in north-eastern Bosnia), after it was found that the apples came from Poland.

"The company that exported apples is located in Bijeljina in Republika Srpska and the apples allegedly were produced in Gracanica, in the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Dragan Mataruga, RS chief agricultural inspector said on Friday.

“I have instructed the Plant Protection Directorate to notify the relevant ministries of the Republika Srpska, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Brcko District about this case,” Sarovic said.

He said that this case pointed to a breach of the agreement and the Protocol signed with Russia.

“We will also inform the Russian side about further activities that will be undertaken by the relevant institutions, and we will also ask for talks with Russia to remove and re-establish exports to Russia,” Sarovic added.

“I don't expect the ban to end soon, regardless of the good relationships between the RS and the Moscow,” economist Predrag Dudukovic told BIRN.

Аbout 40 percent of fruit produced in RS ends up in Russia, according to the data of the RS Ministry of the Agriculture.

According to the Bosnian Foreign Trade Chamber, total commodity trade between Bosnia and Russia for the first nine months of 2017 amounted to 454 million Bosnian marks (around 227 million euros), of which exports of goods to Russia amounted to 48 million euros.