Belarus warned on Friday that it may impose a ban on the import of certain Ukrainian foodstuffs in retaliation for Ukraine’s move to bar Belarusian pork and milk products from its territory.
Yury Pivavarchyk, deputy head of the Belarusian agriculture ministry’s veterinary and foodstuff department, made the warning at a meeting in Kyiv with Ivan Bisyuk, chairman of Ukraine's State Veterinary and Phytosanitary Service, according to the Service’s press office.
Ukraine introduced the temporary bans on March 1, citing fears of an outbreak of African swine fever in Belarus and excessive levels of antibiotics in Belarusian milk products.
Ukraine offered Belarus to take specific actions to resolve the crisis and have the ban lifted, but, instead, Minsk threatened to retaliate, the press office said.
Mr. Bisyuk said that Belarus had threatened to introduce a ban on the import of Ukrainian butter, salt, corn, confectionery and press cake if Ukraine did not withdraw the restrictive measure before 3 p.m. on March 5.
Belarus rejected any proposals by Ukraine for correcting flaws in its pork and dairy industry and, instead, warned that it would ask Kazakhstan and Russia - the other two member states of the Customs Union - to join the retaliatory measures.
The Ukrainian veterinary and phytosanitary watchdog had detected excessive levels of antibiotics in Belarusian milk products since October last year before introducing the ban. The content of penicillin in some milk shipments was four times the limit, according to the watchdog. It said that Belarus had ignored multiple requests to supply antibiotic-free milk products to Ukraine.
Belarusian pork was banned from Ukraine amid rumors of an outbreak of African swine fever in the Hrodna region. The Belarusian authorities denied the rumors, saying that all hogs in one village had been indeed culled by disinfection workers but that it had been a mere veterinary exercise.