RIGA, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Latvia will not prohibit the transit of Russian and Belarusian grain to other European Union (EU) countries, Agriculture Minister Armands Krauze said after a government meeting on Tuesday.
Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, Krauze explained that the Agriculture Ministry had already started work on a draft law which would require that when importing and clearing grain in Latvia, it would be necessary to indicate whether the destination of the grain was Latvia or another EU country. Grain originating in Russia and Belarus will not be allowed to be imported into Latvia.
However, as part of the European internal market, Latvia does not have the right to restrict companies from other Member States from transporting Russian grain through Latvia to their own destinations.
On Jan. 29, the government coalition decided to ban imports of Russian and Belarusian grain into Latvia.
Krauze noted that the EU Agriculture and Fisheries Council is expected to consider an EU-wide ban on Russian grain imports, with Lithuania and Estonia backing Latvia's position.
Krauze said that companies and farmers who buy and use Russian grain will not be eligible for state aid. This rule applies to support mechanisms paid since Jan. 1 this year.
According to the Agriculture Ministry's data, last year Latvia was the second-largest importer of Russian agricultural and food products in the EU after Spain. ■