G7 plans to restrict import from Russia by analogy to Belarus
RIGA. March 8 (Interfax) - There are plans to impose on Russia restrictions similar to those that already apply to Belarus, European Commission Executive Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis said.
"Export control has now been introduced both for Russia and Belarus. A number of bans on the import of some categories of goods have now been imposed on Belarus. There are plans to apply the same bans to Russia," Dombrovskis said, without specifying the goods to which the ban may apply in Russia's situation.
The countries of the G7, which, besides the largest EU states, comprises the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and Japan, are preparing to declare the scrapping of the most favored nation treatment in trade with Russia and Belarus, he said. Other countries may join the agreement.
"That will make it possible to levy extra customs duties on import from Russia and Belarus. Canada has already announced it, and work is now being done at the level of the G7 and more broadly on such decision. It may become an issue of the next few days," Dombrovskis said.
Responding to a question about the readiness to focus on sanctions in the energy sector, bearing in mind the considerable dependence of Europe on Russian energy resources, Dombrovskis said "the issue is being discussed, and none of the options has been taken off the agenda."
The European Commission has also assessed the situation that may occur after Russian gas supplies are halted, he said.
"As spring comes, we need to start serious preparations for next winter using measures such as, for example, joint purchase of natural gas with the thought of creating strategic reserves that would reduce the dependence of the EU on Russian supplies as in that sense many countries, including Latvia, are 100% dependent on Russian gas supplies," Dombrovskis said.
The European Commission will publish proposals on energy issues and possible actions in this sphere on Tuesday, March 8.
The EU imposed a number of sanctions on Russia after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared the start of a special military operation in Ukraine in the morning of February 24. In particular, any transactions with the Russian Central Bank and any establishment acting on its behalf were banned. The Russian banks Otkritie, Novikombank, Promsvyazbank, Rossiya Bank, Sovcombank, VEB.RF (previously Vnesheconombank), VTB, and subsidiaries of these banks will be disconnected from the SWIFT system on March 12.
The import of potassium salt, products made of timber, cement, iron, steel, rubber substance, and dual-purpose products from Belarus is banned.