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Cablegate: Estonia: Reaction to Russia Restricts On Fish

VZCZCXRO6588
RR RUEHAG RUEHDF RUEHIK RUEHLZ RUEHROV
DE RUEHTL #1077 3391322
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 051322Z DEC 06
FM AMEMBASSY TALLINN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9314
INFO RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW 2461
RUCNMEM/EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TALLINN 001077

SIPDIS

STATE PASS TO USTR
WARSAW FOR AG COUNSELOR

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EFIS ETRD TBIO EN
SUBJECT: ESTONIA: REACTION TO RUSSIA RESTRICTS ON FISH
IMPORTS

REF: MOSCOW 12692

1. (U) As reported reftel, on November 24 the Russian
Ministry of Agriculture issued an order limiting the number
of border check points through which fish and fish products
can enter Russia, excluding both of Estonia?s land border
points. 100% of Estonia?s USD 40 million in fish exports
to Russia (one-fifth of total fish exports) normally passes
through these two border points.

2. (SBU) The Government of Estonia is working to address
Russian restrictions both bilaterally and through EU
channels. On November 27, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
(MFA) summoned Nikolai Uspenski, Russia?s Ambassador to
Estonia, to receive an urgent diplomatic note requesting
that Russia provide a fact-based explanation for the new
restrictions. On the same day, the Estonian Veterinary and
Food Board (EVFB) also sent an official inquiry to the
Russian Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance
Service (VPSS). According to Ago Partel, Director General
of the EVFB, the GOE has not yet received any response from
the GOR, and Partel?s Russian counterpart is currently
traveling outside of Russia. Partel told us that the GOE
wants to start negotiations with Russia immediately. He
has already obtained a Russian visa in case he needs to
travel to Moscow on short notice.

3. (SBU) On November 28, Partel raised Estonian concerns on
this issue at the regular meeting of the European chief
veterinary officials in Brussels. As a result of the
meeting, the EU Commission plans to send an inquiry to
Moscow asking for an explanation of the new restrictions.
GOE contacts tell us, however, that they believe the
bilateral approach with Russia is more likely to bring
results than EU efforts.

4. (U) Estonia?s fish exports to Russia consist mostly of
frozen sprat and Baltic herring. According to Hannes
Ulmas, Head of the Fish Trade Department of the Ministry of
Agriculture, the GOR's decision to impose these
restrictions during the active catch season makes it
impossible for Estonian exporters to make plans for the
current or spring catch season. The GOE is particularly
concerned about the impact on small and medium-sized fish
exporters, who are the dependent on access to the Russian
market.

5. (SBU) Comment: Although the Estonian food industry is
accustomed to the somewhat unpredictable nature of the
Russian market, this recent restriction on fish import to
Russia in the middle of catch season came very
unexpectedly. Unless a quick solution is negotiated with
the GOR, it could put a number of small and medium fish
exporters out of business. End Comment.

WOS

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