Georgia Seeks Russian Agricultural Access as Seven-Year Ban Ends

Georgia wants to regain market access for its agricultural products including cheese, fruit, vegetables and meat to Russia, which effectively ended a ban on wine and mineral water imports from the former Soviet republic.

A delegation will travel to Moscow this month to complete the talks, Davit Kirvalidze, Georgia’s agriculture minister, told reporters today in the capital, Tbilisi.

Russian inspectors have carried out the first round of sanitation checks in Georgia, paving the way for more than 40 producers of wine and mineral water to register in Russia after a seven-year embargo, Russia’s public health chief, Gennady Onishchenko, said yesterday.

Georgia’s return to the Russian market would mark a victory for Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili, a Russian-trained economist and engineer who promised to improve political and economic ties with the country’s northern neighbor following his upset election victory in October over the party of President Mikhail Saakashvili.

Russia imposed a ban on Georgian wine, mineral water and agricultural products in 2006, extending the embargo to postal and transport links after the two countries fought a war over a Georgian breakaway region in 2008.

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