Rosselkhoznadzor, the Russian veterinary and phytosanitary surveillance office, said a ban on eleven Estonian dairy and fish exporters will be put in place from January 9, as the companies failed an inspection in October.
Marko Mihkelson, the head of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee, told ETV on Thursday that the move was part of Russia's attempt to force the rules of its customs union with Belarus and Kazakhstan onto the EU. Russia recently also banned food products from the Netherlands and Lithuania.
The head of the Estonian Veterinary and Food Board, Ago Pärtel, said the ban follows a previous pattern whereby Rosselkhoznadzor bans products, then negotiations opened and the bans are alleviated or dropped. He predicted that the process would take at least a few months.
The overall effect of the ban on the Estonian dairy and fish industries is not yet known. A number of the companies in question told Postimees yesterday that they export between 30 to 80 percent of their products to Russia, Belarus or Kazakhstan.
Head of E-Piim, one of the banned exporters, Jaanus Murakas, said that in dealing with Russia, a plan B is always needed, adding that his company has known that the bans were likely since the mid-October visit by Russian food and veterinary inspectors.
Russia had already imposed sanctions on two fisheries in the beginning of November, that time for using raw materials from companies not recognized by Russia.
A similar ban on Lithuanian dairy products introduced at the beginning of October has cost that country's industry millions of euros.