LONDON — Plans to impose sanctions on Russian whitefish have been postponed by the British government amid fears over the impact on Britain’s seafood industry.
Whitefish was among Russian exports set to be hit with a 35% tariff by the UK in response to Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
A UK government official said the sanctions had been “delayed while we sort out some technical details”, but stressed that “we are totally committed to it”. Any suggestion that the plans had been scrapped entirely was “totally false”, the official added.
Around 30% of UK whitefish comes from Russia, which controls between 40 and 45% of the world’s supply, according to industry body Seafish.
When the measure was first announced, Britain’s struggling seafood processing industry and fish and chip shops, which depend on supplies of Russian whitefish, including cod, said that they feared that the price increases resulting from the sanctions would compress their activities.
Andrew Crook, president of the National Federation of Fish Fryers, said: ‘I think the government wants more time to investigate the impact of the sanctions on whitefish, so they’ve just waited for now.
“We of course support all measures they deem appropriate to bring the conflict to a speedier conclusion.”
Sanctions against whitefish were announced on March 15. However, unlike other targeted Russian products, including grain, cement and fertilizers, tariffs were not imposed on whitefish when they went into effect on March 24, according to Seafish, an agency audience that supports the UK. seafood industry.
“This specific tariff change has been delayed to allow the government to continue its work to understand the specific implications of this change for the seafood sector,” a spokesperson said.
“We will continue to work with the government and seafood companies to help ensure a clear understanding of the complexities of seafood trade and processing to ensure these measures have the maximum impact on Russia while ensuring that UK businesses are not unnecessarily penalised.
“We will also continue to advise and support companies to help them adapt to these changes.”
A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said the government was imposing the ‘most punitive sanctions ever imposed on Russia following its unprovoked and unlawful invasion of Ukraine “.
“We intend to introduce a 35% tariff on whitefish imports from Russia, subject to further work on the specific implications for the sector,” the spokesperson said.
“We continue to speak with the industry body, the National Federation of Fish Fryers, and other industry representatives about potential pressures as they navigate the changes.”