Russia may ban car imports if West applies new sanctions – Vedomosti

Russia may tighten retaliatory sanctions against Western nations to include a ban on car imports, if the United States and the European Union impose additional sanctions on Moscow, daily newspaper Vedomosti reported on Monday.

The impact of the measure on many foreign automakers would be softened because their factories inside Russia would not be affected, but some high-end brands such as Daimler AG’s (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes-Benz could be more vulnerable as their models have to be imported.

The West accuses Russia of arming separatist rebels in Ukraine, an allegation Moscow denies. Western governments imposed sanctions on Moscow, including on its financial and energy sectors, and Russia has already hit back by stopping imports of many food products.

Announcing the food bans on Aug. 7, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said the government was also considering protective measures in aircraft, shipbuilding and automotive industries, without specifying the scope of any possible sanctions.

“We are seriously concerned. We hope that the Russian government will think twice before taking any such measures as they would hurt all manufacturers,” Joerg Schreiber, chairman of the Association of European Businesses’ Automobile Manufacturers Committee, told Reuters

Schreiber said the impact of any sanctions would depend on their scope, such as whether the government banned imports of built cars or both cars and components, or raised import duties.

Vedomosti reported that a ban on vehicle imports had been among proposals put before Russian President Vladimir Putin, who rejected the idea and ordered a ban on food imports only. But it said car import restrictions remained an option in the event that Western nations extend sanctions on Russia.

Citing an unnamed government source, the paper said Russia may fully or partly ban imports of cars from countries which impose sanctions on Moscow, though it quoted another source saying the government had not yet been instructed to prepare the introduction of any new measures.

Russia’s industry ministry had no immediate comment.

The article did not specify if the proposed ban would cover all imported vehicles, including trucks and buses as well as passenger cars.

Imports accounted for 27 percent of passenger car sales in the first half of 2014, while for trucks and buses the proportion was 46 percent and 13 percent respectively, it said.

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Source: Reuters


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