Monday, June 17, 2024

EU seeking to hit Russia with stronger tariffs: Report

The European Union is considering imposing tariffs on up to €42 billion ($46 billion) worth of imports from Russia that until now have been spared from the bloc’s sanctions regime, Financial Times has reported.

While most EU trade with Russia has been halted over the Ukraine conflict, some imports are still allowed, either because there are no alternative supplies or due to concerns about global market disruptions.

On Thursday, EU trade ministers asked the European Commission to develop a plan to place duties on imports of food, nuclear fuel, and medicines.

The initiative on a broader use of tariffs was put forward by Sweden, EU Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters.

“From the European Commission’s side, we will be assessing this and providing member states with options to move forward,” he stated.

Swedish Trade Minister Johan Forssell told FT it was important to cut Russia’s revenues, so that “the income from these tariffs could be spent to help Ukraine to win this war”.

He called for “broad tariffs on all that trade,” but accepted that “it’s sensitive in some areas”.

On Thursday, EU ministers adopted a regulation hiking import tariffs on Russian and Belarusian grain. The “prohibitive” levies, which will take effect on July 1, will apply to cereals, oilseeds and derived products, as well as beet-pulp pellets and dried peas from both nations.

According to FT, the EU set the tariffs so high – at €95 ($100) per ton – that they amount to an effective ban.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has said previously that imposing tariffs on Russian grain is an example of “unfair competition”. The measure will hit EU consumers, while Moscow will use alternative supply routes, he argued.

Some EU member states have also proposed extending the bloc’s sanctions to include nuclear fuel sold by Moscow.

However, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Rafael Grossi has warned there is no quick way to shift away from Russian nuclear fuel, and that severing ties too soon would harm global energy markets.

The EU is aiming to adopt the new round of sanctions before July. Brussels adopted its 13th package of restrictions against Moscow ahead of the second anniversary of the beginning of the Ukraine conflict in February. The measures were mostly aimed at closing loopholes to prevent Russia from circumventing existing restrictions via third countries.

Some high-ranking EU politicians and diplomats have acknowledged that the scope for further sanctions is narrowing.

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