Olomouc - If the European Commission (EC) does not sufficiently help food makers and farmers from EU member countries who will be harmed by the Russian sanctions, the Czech Republic could ban food imports that would have dumping prices, Agriculture Minister Marian Jurecka said today.
Czech farmers and food producers fear that in particular farmers from the neighbouring countries will now try do sell goods even for prices below production costs due to the shortfall in sales to Russia.
"If the EC does not present us functional instruments with sufficient financial allocation, we will have to adopt measures. We will be watching intensively not only the quality but also the volume of the imported goods and commodities, and also their price," Jurecka answered to CTK´s question whether the Agriculture Ministry will listen to the Food Chamber´s call for tougher control of imported food products.
If the ministry finds out that prices of some imported food products and agricultural commodities have really dumping prices, it will intervene.
"We will have to use an unprecedented step that has not yet been used on the single EU market. We will probably be forced to close our market to some commodities. It would be the most extreme step and I would prefer if we do not have to use it," Jurecka remarked.
EU regulations allow similar limitations in case of dumping prices in imports. However, the procedure for banning prices below production costs is long and complicated, he added.
The ministry expects the EC to make public a proposal for help to producers of dairy and meat products in the EU harmed by the Russian embargo in the coming days.
Export subsidies, support to storing and financial compensations for losses are being talked about, Jurecka noted.
At the beginning of August, Russia banned all imports of meat, fish, milk, dairy products, fruit and vegetables from the EU, the USA and several other western countries in reaction to western sanctions imposed on selected Russian companies and economic sectors over the crisis in Ukraine.
The ministry earlier said that Czech exporters of agricultural commodities and food products would lose Kc250m to Kc300m in sales by the end of this year due to the sanctions on exports to Russia.
Czech dairies will be hit the hardest. However, the expected surplus of goods on the EU markets may cause even more problems.
Czech Food Chamber spokeswoman Dana Vecerova said that damage caused by the fall in the prices of commodities could reach billions of crowns for Czech producers.
The EC at the end of August allocated EUR125m (almost Kc3.5bn) for help to EU farmers hit by the Russian embargo. It will back growers of almost 20 kinds of fruit and vegetables that cannot be stored for long, for example carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, cauliflower, cucumbers, mushrooms, apples, pears and grapes.