Russia may put new embargo on imports of Moldovan wines – Rospotrebnadzor head

In the nearest future, the Russian Federation may well forbid the imports of wines from Moldova, Gennady Onischenko, Head of RosPotrebNadzor [Russian federal supervisory agency for consumer goods quality] and Russia's Chief Federal Sanitary Inspector, told journalists. According to the Russian media, Onischenko said that the worst possible scenario is currently unfolding, as concerns the Moldovan wines shipped to the Russian Federation.  

“The situation is getting worse and it seems that in spite of the promises of Moldovan officials, we will have to impose drastic measures,” said Onishenko.  

In his words, in spite of the statements made by Moldovan Minster of Agriculture and Food Industry Vasile Bumacov, upon his arrival from Moscow last week, “no negotiations on wine supply have been held with RosPotrebNadzor.”

Meanwhile, even Russian experts think that the suddenly-emerged claims to the quality of Moldovan wines are politically-biased.    
The head of the Research Center on the Federal and Regional Alcohol Market, Vadim Drobiz said in an interview with the ‘Vechernyaya Moskva’ [literally ‘Evening Moscow’] Russian local daily newspaper, that the introduction of embargo on the import of Moldovan wines is “quite possible”.  

“The possible introduction of import restrictions has a political reason. Now, Moldova, just as Ukraine and Armenia, is going to sign a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union. In this context, the Russian Federation is exerting pressure on these countries, including in the form of a possible trade embargo. Another county, which is also signing the deep and comprehensive free trade agreement with the European Union, is Georgia, but for the Russian Federation it is already a ‘free-wheeling state’ and there is no sense to struggle against it,” he said.  

Drobiz also reminded that over the past years, when the resumption of the Georgian wine imports to the Russian Federation has been widely discussed, RosPotrebNadzor has expressed no claims towards the Moldovan wines.  

“Yet, in mid 2013, sanitary inspectors have suddenly detected low-quality Moldovan beverages in the amount of 30 thousand liters – which is a very small quantity. Moreover, had the federal agency been really interested in the protection of the Russian consumers, it would have solved these problems with certain installments of wines and with concrete producers, in stead of imposing a general ban on the import of Moldovan wines. The embargo is not a method to protect the consumers, but a way to exert pressure on the producing country,” the expert said.  

In his opinion, “the current situation will negatively tell on Moldova and on the Russian importers of Moldovan wines, but to a lower extent than in 2006.”   

“Before the 2006 embargo, the Moldovan wines had a quota of 25% on the Russian market and after the resumption of imports, in December 2007, the Moldovan beverages accounted for only 5% of the market,” the expert said, noting that at present, the main sales market for Moldovan wine-makers is not the Russian Federation, but Ukraine, Belarus and other states of the former USSR.   

“Moldovan wines are further supplied to these countries, and the Customs Union does not play a significant role in this respect. For instance, all over those years when the Georgian wines had been forbidden in the Russian Federation, the Belarus consumers used to drink them and to laugh at us. Moreover, at that time, it was impossible to legally import Georgian wines to the Russian Federation. Of course, Russia can try to influence Belarus and Kazakhstan by the means of the Customs Union bodies. Yet, I don’t think that Russia will succeed in these attempts,” he said. 

Adapted from Infotag