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Ministers meet industry chiefs over Russia's food import ban

HOLYROOD ministers are seeking urgent meetings with industry leaders to discuss the impact of Russia's trade embargo on food imports from the west.

Scotland currently exports about £45 million of food and drink to Russia annually, including £16m of mackerel, which is expected to be most directly affected.

The ban on food products, including fish and seafood, beef, pork, poultry, cured meats, sausages, milk and dairy products and fruit and vegetables, came into effect on Thursday night after being announced by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

In addition to EU countries, the year-long ban also applies to Canada, Australia, Norway and the US. Alcohol is not included.

One firm, a Peterhead fish processor, has already suffered a cancellation of a shipment of herring to the country. Lunar Freezing said it was concerned at the effect the situation could have on exports.

First Minister Alex Salmond has already chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government Resilience Committee to discuss the impact.

He said: "The Scottish Government continues to make our concerns about the situation in Ukraine clear and we fully support EU sanctions against Russia.

"This action by Russia will clearly have an impact on some sectors within the Scottish economy, most notably on the mackerel industry, with exports worth £16m to Russia annually.

"The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, Richard Lochhead, has already spoken to representatives from the fishing industry and will be meeting industry heads as a matter of urgency."

He added: "We will continue talks with companies and producers who export to Russia most likely to be impacted to fully understand the effect of the ban, and also to gauge the ripple effect caused by the ban across the rest of Europe.

"We will also look at developing both new international markets and domestic opportunities that will not only alleviate the impact of this ban in the short term, but will also create long-lasting business opportunities."

The ban follows EU and US sanctions on Russia in the wake of the suspected shooting down of Flight MH17 by separatists.

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Local government

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