September 4, 2014 / 10:27 AM / 3 years ago

EU looking at payouts to compensate for Russia food ban - De Gucht

NICOSIA (Reuters) - The European Union’s trade chief said on Thursday the bloc was considering compensating European food producers hit by trade restrictions that Russia has imposed in retaliation for EU sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

A worker arranges cheese for sale at a grocery store in St. Petersburg August 11, 2014. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told business leaders in Cyprus the EU was looking at ways to help food producers during the crisis, and said he “strongly supported” the sanctions.

“To offset the problems for European food producers caused by Russia’s recent restrictions, we are working to look at new markets as a first step and intend to use emergency compensation where this does not work out,” De Gucht said.

Russia’s retaliatory ban on imports of food from the European Union could cost producers in the bloc 5 billion euros ($6.6 billion) a year, according to an internal EU document seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

The EU’s second biggest food market after the United States, Russia on Aug. 6 decreed a one-year ban on European fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meat, accounting for almost half of the bloc’s food exports to Russia.

De Gucht said he planned to travel to the United States next week to discuss a further opening to European goods.

“I hope they understand they should open their markets for our products,” he said.

Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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