Fruit companies from the Netherlands and Belgium are supplying their products to Russia despite the sanctions imposed by the EU and Moscow’s counter sanctions, reported the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant. The newspaper cites the information received during the negotiations between the suppliers of Belgian pears with Russian importers.
On August 7, 2014, Russia prohibited the importation of meat, fish, milk, vegetables and fruits from the EU. The President of Russia imposed a ban in the response to the EU sanctions which were introduced after the annexation of the Crimea and aggression in the Donbas.
According to the publication, Dutch and Belgian pears of the Conference variety are being imported by Russian importers through Lithuania as African pears. In Africa, certificates are bought through corruption schemes. They indicate that the pears were grown in Africa but were delivered to Europe through Belgium and the Netherlands.
Under this scheme, about 70,000 tons of Dutch and Belgian pears are delivered to Russia annually. This brings annual profits of 56 million euro to local farmers. According to the newspaper, the Dutch and Belgians received about 240 million euro from such deliveries of pears after the sanctions were introduced.
Before the counter sanctions against Russia were imposed, every third Belgian pear and every sixth Dutch pear was sent to Russia. The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food quality stated that they only heard rumors about smuggling. "The Ministry does not know if the Dutch companies take part in it and to what extent,” the Ministry stated.
The Dutch believe that it is up to Russia to enforce the restrictions on the imports. The Dutch Ministry calls it "shameful" that farmers probably continue to trade with Russia through the smuggling routes and at the same time receive subsidies from the state.