MOSCOW, September 11 (RIA Novosti) – Russia banned Moldovan wine imports on Tuesday over quality concerns, Russia’s chief consumer rights official told the Rossiya 24 news channel.
“Despite our concerns, repeatedly expressed both publicly and, well, in working regime, basic problems remain unsolved,” said Gennady Onishchenko, the head of Russia’s consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor. “We have a feeling that the state has absolutely no control over the country’s major industry and a budget revenue source, and either ignores the issue or demonstrates its total helplessness.”
He said that only 1 percent of Moldovan products for sale on the Russian market in 2013 underwent national quality control.
“We are not going to act as a caring, tender nanny for the Moldovan economy anymore,” Onishchenko added. “Once they bring [the wine industry] in order, put forward adequate proposals on how to normalize the situation, then we can discuss the return [of Moldovan products] to the Russian market.”
Moldovan deputy premier and economics minister Valeriu Lazar said he had already requested the country’s economic and agriculture officials to give an accurate and detailed analysis of the situation on the market.
“For me, it’s very important to understand where the technical aspects [of wine quality] end and political ones begin,” he said. “For me, there is no certainty for now.”
A spokeswoman for the country’s premier, Liliana Vitu, said Chisinau was ready for talks about the quality of Moldovan wine.
“We are waiting for Rospotrebnadzor to make an official statement. Moldova has toughened control over its wine products, reforms are underway in the republic’s wine industry,” she said.
Russia banned Moldovan wine imports in 2006, when the country’s products accounted for about 60 percent of the Russian market. Although the embargo was lifted in late 2007, Moldovan products currently account for about 10 percent of all wine products sold in Russia.
The ban comes ahead of expected signing of a landmark agreement between the European Union and Chisinau in November. Russia also imposed trade restrictions on Roshen, a major candy maker from Moldova’s neighbor Ukraine, which also seeks to sign a similar deal with the EU during the Eastern partnership summit in Vilnius, Lithuania.