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EU Official: Union Considering Payouts to Compensate for Russian Ban

FILE - European Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht speaks during a news conference at the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels.

The European Union's trade chief said on Thursday the bloc was considering compensating European food producers hit by trade restrictions that Russia has imposed in retaliation for EU sanctions over the Ukraine crisis.

Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told business leaders in Cyprus the EU was looking at ways to help food producers during the crisis, and said he “strongly supported” the sanctions.

“To offset the problems for European food producers caused by Russia's recent restrictions, we are working to look at new markets as a first step and intend to use emergency compensation where this does not work out,” De Gucht said.

One-year ban on EU food imports

Russia's retaliatory ban on imports of food from the European Union could cost producers in the bloc 5 billion euros ($6.6 billion) a year, according to an internal EU document seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

The EU's second biggest food market after the United States, Russia on Aug. 6 decreed a one-year ban on European fruits and vegetables, dairy products and meat, accounting for almost half of the bloc's food exports to Russia.

De Gucht said he planned to travel to the United States next week to discuss a further opening to European goods.

“I hope they understand they should open their markets for our products,” he said.