Russia has moved to protect its domestic caviar industry by raising import duties for US imports of the delicacy, the RBC Daily newspaper said Friday.
Minimal import tariffs were increased from $7 to $14 per kilogram of caviar, the report said, citing representatives of unspecified import firms.
The hike takes place against a backdrop of increased political tensions over Ukraine, but predates it, having been implemented since January but not reported earlier, RBC said.
Alaskan caviar saved Russia’s winter holiday season after a poor domestic harvest in the Far East last year.
Red caviar is a mandatory treat at Russian festivities, including New Year’s, Christmas and birthday parties.
Russia’s annual caviar consumption is estimated at 13,000 to 15,000 tons. Last year’s imports stood at almost 2,500 tons, most of it from Alaska, according to the Federal Customs Service.
Russian caviar producers have accused importers of misreporting caviar production prices in the United States in order to pay smaller import fees.
But even the current protectionist measures would not be enough to save domestic caviar producers, whose crop will still be about 50 percent more expensive than Alaskan caviar even after the tariff hike, RBC said.