Export of EU apples and pears to US could partly offset Russian ban

The EU has welcomed US moves to allow the import of European apples and pears as soon as this autumn.

A joint statement by EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Andriukaitis, Trade Commissioner Malmström and Agriculture Commissioner Hogan said: "It will be of significant benefit to European farmers, many of whom lost their main export markets overnight as a result of Russian sanctions imposed in 2014.

"The eventual opening of the US market will not offset the full impact of the sanctions, but it will certainly help the farming community by at least providing another commercial outlet for their produce."

They added that opening the market for this year's harvest "could be feasible, if all parties continue their efforts".

Last week US Department of Agriculture's Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service put forward proposals to allow top fruit imports from eight EU members, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands.

Moves to simplify market access to the US long pre-date the Russian ban on EU foodstuffs imposed in 2014, which caused top fruit exporting member states to lose as much as 50 per cent of their export market in the cases of Poland and Belgium.

The European Commission added that the projected commercial value of such exports is "modest" at around €10m (£7.5m). US apples and pears already have access to the EU market.

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