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Swiss sidestep: Efforts to evade Russian sanctions by labelling products as Swiss blocked

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By Nathan Gray+

22-Aug-2014
Last updated on 22-Aug-2014 at 14:19 GMT

Some EU food producers have sought ways around the Russian ban by exporting through Switzerland and other countries that are unaffected by sanctions,according to reports.
Some EU food producers have sought ways around the Russian ban by exporting through Switzerland and other countries that are unaffected by sanctions,according to reports.

Industry efforts to sidestep Russian sanctions against Western food exports by labelling foods as being of Swiss origin have been rebuffed by the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture, according to reports.

It has been suggested that EU food producers are looking for ways to sidestep the current one year ban on exports from European Union member states by labelling foods and produce to seem as though they originate in areas unaffected by the sanctions.

According to reports in the Wall Street Journal and EurActiv, officials at the Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture have been approached by some EU food producers in an effort to sidestep the sanctions, however Swiss officials have apparently rejected such notions.

Switzerland is exempt from Russia's retaliatory measures because it isn't participating in Western sanctions against the country following its annexation of Crimea earlier this year, and Moscow's continued support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.

Sidestepping sanctions

According to the reports, some EU food producers have sought ways around the Russian ban by exporting through Switzerland and other countries that are unaffected by sanctions. The Swiss Federal Office for Agriculture said it has rejected requests from fruit, vegetable and foodstuffs producers, but declined to give further details.

Unlike Switzerland, other countries such as Belarus or Serbia are reportedly more eager to circumvent the food ban and sell foodstuffs originating from Western countries as originating from their territory.

Swiss stance

According to Jurg Jordi, a spokesman for the office, Switzerland is required to certify food exports for hygiene, which it can't do if the products are processed outside its borders.

The country has previously pledged to prevent Russia from using its territory to bypass Western countries' sanctions.

Swiss-based firms could be set to see an increase may increase its sales in Russia, thanks to the one year full embargo. According to InterCheese AG, a Swiss cheese exporter, it has been contacted by some of its Russian customers looking for alternative suppliers for cheeses - especially Dutch Gouda and Italian mozzarella, which are subject to the Russian government ban.

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