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Ukraine crisis: EU threatens sanctions as its G8 preparations are suspended

By Sarah Hills , 04-Mar-2014

Ukraine crisis: EU threatens sanctions, G8 preparations suspended

EU and G7 moves against Russian action in the Ukraine have cast a shadow over G8 talks this summer, when trade and food safety will be on the agenda.

The EU and G7 leaders (of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and US) have issued a joint statement against the Russian Federation’s “clear violation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”, where Russia’s armed forces are now active following an uprising.

The leaders decided to suspend their “participation in activities associated with the preparation of the scheduled G8 Summit in Sochi (Russia) in June, until the environment comes back where the G8 is able to have meaningful discussion”.

The EU Foreign Affairs Council also said yesterday after an extraordinary meeting that, in the absence of “de-escalating steps by Russia”, it will “consider further targeted measures”. Suspending bilateral talks with Russia on visa matters and economic cooperation are a possibility. Meanwhile the US is also considering sanctions.

Russia is the third trading partner of the EU and the EU is the first trading partner of Russia.

Eurostat COMEXT trade figures for 2012 show that EU food and drink exports to Russia totalled €7.9bn, with imports from Russia reaching €1.3bn. In contrast, EU food and drink exports to Ukraine reached €1.4bn, with imports at €1.3bn.

The G8 includes the G7 countries and Russia, which meet each year to discuss global issues.

The talks can help advance trade agreements with potential to benefit the food industry, as was seen last year after formal negotiations between the European Union and the United States on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) were announced at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland.

Food Safety

Last month Dr Kazuaki Miyagishima, director of the World Health Organisation Department of Food Safety and Zoonoses, spoke about the necessity of integrating food safety issues into global health security and the G8’s agenda.

He stated: “Globalization is putting a lot of economic pressure on food producers in all countries, they have to minimize their production expenses, so they are sometimes tempted to go for food fraud using illegal ingredients or labelling them differently."

Similarly Dr Miyagishima highlighted that consumers can lose trust and stop buying products, as was the case when Spanish cucumbers were blamed for a foodborne outbreak in Germany in 2011.

Trade and Sanctions

EU policy is to intervene when necessary to prevent conflict or respond to crises, which can take the form of restrictive measures or sanctions.

Typically sanctions do not include food or medicines, although both can be impacted by other restrictions, on transportation or commercial agreements for example.

However, in January 2011 the EU imposed sanctions against trade with the Ivory Coast following a leadership conflict there that threatened civil war.

They were removed in April that year but it had left 475,000 tonnes of cocoa beans piled up in Ivorian ports ready for export.

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