New UK sanctions on Russia include ban on luxury exports, hiked import tariffs and halt to UKEF aid

Tue 15 Mar 2022
Posted by: William Barns-Graham
Trade News

russian vodka

The UK government has today (15 March) expanded trade sanctions on Russia including a ban on the export of certain luxury goods, hiked import tariffs on hundreds of Russian goods and cutting off financial support for trade with the country.

Luxury vehicles, high-end fashion goods and works of art are among those likely to receive export bans.

Fur and vodka

The Guardian reports that around £900m worth of Russian goods will be subject to 35% tariffs from next week – including fur, vodka, white fish and industrial products such as fertilisers, tyres and cement.

The UK will deny both Russia and Belarus access to most favoured nation tariff rates on hundreds of products – a key benefit of World Trade Organization membership. This follows a similar move by the US administration.

Rule of law

International trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “The World Trade Organization is founded on respect for the rule of law, which Putin has shown he holds in contempt. By depriving his government of key benefits of WTO membership, we are denying him further resource for his invasion.”

The Department for International Trade (DIT) has also expanded the Export Support Service (ESS) to act as a single point of enquiry for businesses and traders with questions relating to the situation in Ukraine and Russia.

The service has so far supported over 1,000 queries about the impact of the crisis on traders and was highlighted by Paul McComb, the director of UK exports at DIT, on a recent IOE&IT webinar to 1,400 businesses about how to comply with the new sanctions.

Cutting off finance

The Treasury said it would also no longer issue any new guarantees, loans or insurance support for exports to Russia and Belarus.

Politico reports analysis from the Labour Party that shows UK Export Finance (UKEF), the government credit guarantee agency, has poured £191m into support for exports to Russia since 2014. 

While UKEF is cutting off its support for exports to Russia and Belarus, the office is maintaining its £3.5bn to support exports to Ukraine.

Economic Crime bill

New laws to tackle ‘dirty money’ have been fast-tracked through Parliament with royal assent granted to the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act, according to the Standard.

The government is now expected to announce further sanctions, with legislation establishing a new register of overseas entities, which will require foreign owners of property in the UK to declare their true identity.

The UK has already imposed asset freezes and travel bans on seven leading oligarchs and 386 members of the Russian Duma.

It has also provided humanitarian aid to Ukraine totalling almost £400m and provided defensive weapons, and essential civilian supplies like generators and medicines.