Russia softens stance on dairy product imports from India

26 Aug 2015


Thanks to western sanctions, Russia seems to have softened its position on importing dairy products from India. Moscow now says it is amenable to importing products from small cattle farms and plants as also cooperatives such as Amul, provided quality of the product is guaranteed.

Russia had earlier restricted dairy imports like hard cheese to larger farms with a minimum cattle size of 1,000 with modern processing plants and this had restricted possibilities of India catering to Russia's dairy products market.

Russia had also insisted that dairies supplying cheese should have captive cattle farms, which would help them get certificates from authorised veterinarians specifying that the cattle have been properly vaccinated and are free of foot-and-mouth disease, tuberculosis, brucellosis and leukaemia.

India had sought a review of the restrictive import policy and the Russian authorities are reported to have responded positively to India's request.

Russia has now said it is ready to reconsider the condition but wants the Indian government to give a comprehensive report on how its safety concerns would be addressed.

Meanwhile, the Export Inspection Council of India (EIC), a government body for quality control and inspection of items for export, has prepared a report specifying the measures that will be taken to ensure that dairy products exported to Russia are free of contaminants and disease-causing germs.

The report has already been sent to the Indian embassy in Moscow for sharing with the Russian authorities.

As of now, only two Indian producers of hard cheese - Parag Milk Foods and Shreiber Dynamix Diaries - had qualified to export to Russia when it allowed entry of dairy products from India in April under stringent conditions.

The commerce ministry had refused to formalise the draft agreement on dairy exports, insisting that a provision be added that there would be a review of the condition on minimum cattle ownership six months later. Moscow did not respond to that plea for a while, resulting in no sales even from the qualified exporters.

Russia imports food products worth $40 billion annually, mostly from western countries. It has now restricted imports from that region following the Ukrainian crisis.

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