Russia has temporarily lifted the ban on imports of basic goods. The measure announced by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin took effect on Friday 19th March and will last a month. “From tomorrow all restrictions on supplies of essential goods, including customs restrictions will be lifted for one month. We are introducing a green route for importers and large retail chains. A zero customs duty rate is set for the import of a number of goods, including medicines and medical devices,” said Mishustin, who underlined the importance of Russian industries increasing and accelerating the production of medical devices, which are now in high demand.
Mishustin noted that the coronavirus pandemic has already had a serious impact on the export of goods and services. There are also a number of barriers in the domestic market. Speaking about the development of agricultural sector, the Prime Minister stressed the need to raise the income levels of rural residents.
The Prime Minister stated that Russia has enough foodstuffs and the authorities will do everything to ensure that stores do not have empty shelves. “Many European countries now see feverish demand for food because of the spread of coronavirus infection. We have enough food products, we will continue to do everything so that our people can buy fresh products - bread, milk, meat - and the shops do not have empty shelves,” he said.
However, the European agricultural sector is uncertain what to make of the Russian government’s announcement. Meeuwes Brouwer of the Agriculture Council in Russia said, “We are currently verifying the news. The news published by Itar-TASS comes from a speech last week by the new Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. This speech was translated by the news agency. We are now investigating whether this translation has been placed in the right context. There is doubt about the term ‘essential goods’.”