“Opening Norwegian exports to Russia is not a topic that is being discussed anymore”

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The Director of the Russian import company Severnaya, Børge Prytz Larsen, has no faith that there will be any changes in sanctions from the US and the EU against Russian interests.

“It is not about Russia and Norway. It is the big policy that decides here,” said Prytz Larsen to SalmonBusiness.

The conflict dates back to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula and the war in eastern Ukraine which in 2014 triggered US and EU sanctions against Russian interests. Russia responded in August of the same year with import blocks on US, EU, Canada, Australia and Norway food products.

Larsen, who sits in the middle of it every day, sees no foreseeable change in the situation.

“It’s the status quo. Opening for Norwegian exports to Russia is not a topic that is being discussed anymore,” he said.

“I would have known it”
The importer said that there was pressure at the beginning of the sanctions, from many teams, to work for and return to the situation as it was before the trade barrier.

“But it has calmed down completely. Those who say they know anything says so to make themselves interesting. I’m sitting in the middle of it. Had there been any development, I would have known about it,” said Prytz Larsen adding: “We deal salmon with Chile and the Faroe Islands. And people here in Russia are happy with it.”

In 2013, Russia was the most valuable market for Norwegian seafood, and in a normal situation, the Russian market consumes about 150,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon. The Norwegian Seafood Council has calculated that free access to the Russian markets from January 2019 would have given the Norwegian salmon industry an additional income of EUR 178 million in 2019.

Will be able to quickly resume activity in the market
Asbjørn Warvik Rørtveit, director of market insight and market access in the Norwegian Seafood Council, believes that an opening to Russia would have been very positive for the Norwegian seafood industry, and said they are ready to facilitate an opening fairly quick.

Asbjørn Warvik Rørtveit. PHOTO: Sverre Simonsen

“If the relationship between the West and Russia were normalized so that the trade can be resumed, the Seafood Council is ready to be able to quickly resume activity in the market,” he added.

But the Seafood Council is also not optimistic about an early opening.

“We are currently not aware that there is any development in Russia’s decision to ban imports,” said Rørtveit.