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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Estonia Says Goods Boycott Will Fail

Estonian Prime Minister Andrus Ansip on Thursday said any Russian boycott of Estonian goods would fail because many products originating in Estonia have a European Union label.

Ansip also said any interruption of Russian oil deliveries would be more of a problem for Russia than for Estonia.

"The call to boycott Estonian goods in Russia is doomed to fail as the goods sold there do not carry the label 'Made in Estonia,'" Ansip told reporters.

Many goods produced in the 27-nation bloc have a "Made in the EU" label, he said.

Russian politicians and businessmen have called for a boycott of Estonian goods, and some stores are pulling Estonian-made products from their shelves.

Oliver Kruuda, the owner of Estonia's largest confectionary, Kalev, said Thursday that Russian companies had stopped buying candy, Interfax reported. Kalev usually sells 3 million to 4 million kroonas ($260,530 to $347,370) worth of candy to Russia per month, he said.

Supermarket chains in Kaliningrad and Bashkortostan said they would no longer sell Estonian products.

Ansip shrugged off any interruption of Russian oil deliveries to Estonian transit ports.

"The oil transit sector does not employ a lot of people, the number of possible job losses would be modest, and the impact to the government budget would be practically nonexistent," he said.

He said about 80 percent of foreign investments to Estonia derive from Finland and Sweden, while Russia contributes a mere 2 percent to the figure.

State monopoly Russian Railways announced on Wednesday that it was suspending shipments of oil to Estonia. On Thursday, the railway denied oil supplies to Estonia had been stopped because of the political dispute, but some traders on the route said oil trains were still blocked.

"What the traders are saying is completely untrue," said Yelena Kulakova, a railways spokeswoman.

"There is maintenance going on but it happens every year. All the orders will be filled. We don't have the right to refuse delivery. The repairs won't affect the volume of trade at all. The volumes can't be cut."

The Estonian Embassy in Moscow also saw no evidence of delays. "All I know is our Estonian railways have made the same statement, that there's no interruption and everything is proceeding according to the schedule," embassy spokesman Franek Persidski said.

Russian oil firms rushed on Wednesday to reroute one-quarter of their refined-products exports away from Estonia after traders said Russian Railways was not accepting volumes slated for May shipment.

"Nothing has changed since yesterday, and as of today nobody has got permission to send their volumes by rail toward Estonia," a major operator on the route said Thursday.

"Some firms have already rerouted their products to other destinations. Gazprom Neft, for example, will deliver naphtha to Kaliningrad.

"Some fuel oil will be sent to Murmansk, but fuel oil will be the main problem as alternative destinations will not be able to digest all of the Estonian exports," the operator said.

Oil traders and brokers also said Russia's largest refiner, Kirishi, which is the most active user of the route to Estonia, was likely to be allowed to continue shipments in May.

AP, Reuters, MT