US further restricts Russian seafood through third-country processing ban

The Biden Administration has announced it is banning US imports of Russian-origin salmon, cod, pollock and crab processed in other countries, in an effort to further curtail economic activity that could be used to support Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
US President Joe Biden has announced further restrictions on importation of Russian seafood.

US President Joe Biden has announced further restrictions on importation of Russian seafood.

Photo: The White House / Biden Administration.

The Biden Administration is to extend its ban on US imports of Russian seafood to include items processed or "transformed" in other countries.

President Joe Biden signed a new executive order to extend the ban on December 22. Announcing the clampdown, Biden said that among other measures, the US Government intends to prohibit the importation of "products harvested in Russian waters or by Russia-flagged vessels, even if these products are then transformed in a third country". 

The Department of the Treasury has since confirmed this means a complete ban on imports of salmon, cod, pollock, and crab of Russian origin, no matter where these have been processed.

Import contracts of the banned products which were signed before December 22 will be allowed to enter the country until 12:01am Eastern standard time on February 21, 2024, the Treasury confirmed.

New executive order closes loophole on import of Russian-origin seafood products

The US had already banned direct imports of Russian fish and seafood in March 2022, in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russia later retaliated to western import restrictions by banning North American and European seafood products in 2023.

However, despite the 2022 restriction, Russian-origin products could still be imported into the US via third-country processors, particularly through China - a loophole that this latest executive order aims to close.

The crackdown follows pressure from US seafood industry representatives, federal agencies and US Congress, who warned that imports of Russian seafood from Chinese processors not only circumvented the ban, but also damaged the US seafood industry by reducing prices and impacting fishermen's incomes.

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