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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Deadline on Plant Imports Extended

bloombergRussia's disagreement with the EU over plant certificates covers everything from cut flowers to potato starch.
The Agriculture Ministry said on Friday that there would be no halt in plant imports from the European Union, although not all 25 countries of the bloc had met the deadline to present new safety certificates.

"We will continue accepting old certificates for another 14 days," Nikolai Tryakhov, deputy head of the phytosanitary control department, said.

EU officials said earlier on Friday that Europe's lucrative plant trade with Russia should proceed smoothly as the bulk of member states have met Friday's deadline to provide Moscow with restyled EU export certificates.

In March, Brussels averted a threatened blockade of plant and vegetable exports to Russia, worth some 800 million euros ($956) per year, by agreeing to scrap national safety certificates and introduce a single EU version.

The terms of that deal are that all EU governments must send samples of a single plant safety certificate to Moscow by July 1, replacing the 25 differing national versions.

EU officials said it appeared five countries -- Cyprus, Luxembourg, Ireland, Italy and Spain -- might have missed the deadline and still had to make last-minute technical changes.

But this would be ironed out in just a few days, they said.

Tryakhov could not immediately give the list of the countries which had failed to provide certificates in time, but said he expected them to present specimens shortly.

Sergei Dankvert, head of Russia's Federal Service for Veterinarian and Vegetation Sanitary Supervision, said that Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, Great Britain, Finland, France, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia and Britain had presented certificates so far.

"Spain has sent certificates with an insufficient level of protection," Dankvert said. He added that Russia would keep accepting only old certificates issued prior to July 1.

Dankvert was quoted last month as saying that, as of July 1, Russia would only allow plant product imports that had the single certificate, so any country that had not sent its examples would not be able to continue trade.

"We're confident that trade will continue uninterrupted, unless we hear to the contrary from the Russians," one European Commission official said.

The row over Europe's plant and plant products, covering everything from cut flowers and pot plants to seeds and potato starch, had soured trade relations with Russia for months.

Under the terms of the EU-Russia plant agreement in March, Russian authorities would accept the old-style EU documents alongside the new model, which only differ by country in color and security features such as watermarks, up to July 1.

After July 1, any EU country that had not provided samples of its plant certificate would be in breach of the agreement, thus risking a trade ban.