Russia Vague on Lifting Moldovan Wine Ban

MOSCOW, September 20 (RIA Novosti) – The countdown for the return of Moldovan wine to the Russian market will start as soon as Chisinau establishes a reliable system of quality control at its wineries, Russia’s chief consumer rights official said Friday.

“We have agreed that Moldova, whenever it’s ready, will give us convincing data on the establishment of a national system of product quality control,” Gennady Onishchenko, head of Russia’s consumer rights watchdog Rospotrebnadzor, said after a meeting with Moldovan Agriculture Minister Vasile Bumacov in Moscow.

“As soon as we receive these assurances, a countdown for the return of Moldovan produce to the Russian market will start,” Onishchenko said.

Russia banned Moldovan wine and brandy imports on Tuesday over quality concerns.

The ban comes ahead of the expected signing of a landmark agreement between the European Union and Chisinau in November. Russia has 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.

Russia previously 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, with $60 million in sales last year.

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