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UK bans luxury exports to Russia, imposes high tariffs on vodka in new sanctions

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London:  The UK government on Tuesday announced a ban on exports to Russia of high-end luxury goods and imposed new import tariffs on key Russian products like vodka as part of a latest wave of economic sanctions in response to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Russian vodka is one of the iconic products affected by the tariff increases, while the export ban will also affect luxury vehicles, high-end fashion and works of art.

The British government said the latest measures will cause maximum harm to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war machine while minimising the impact on UK businesses.

“Our new tariffs will further isolate the Russian economy from global trade, ensuring it does not benefit from the rules-based international system it does not respect,” said UK Chancellor Rishi Sunak.

“These tariffs build on the UK’s existing work to starve Russia’s access to international finance, sanction Putin’s cronies and exert maximum economic pressure on his regime,” he said.

The UK has published an initial list of goods worth GBP 900 million, including beverages and spirits, glass and glassware, paper and paperboard, machinery, antiques, and artificial fur, which will now face additional 35 percent tariff, on top of current tariffs.

The export ban will come into force shortly and is aimed at Russian oligarchs and other members of the elite, who the UK says have grown rich under President Putin’s reign and support his “illegal invasion”, are deprived of access to luxury goods.

The Department for International Trade (DIT) says that denying Russia and Belarus access to Most Favoured Nation tariff treatment for key imports and applying additional tariffs will restrict Russian exports to the UK and deprive both nations key benefits of WTO membership.

“The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with our international partners in our determination to punish Putin for his barbaric actions in Ukraine, and we will continue our work to starve his regime of the funds that enable him to carry them out,” said UK Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

“The World Trade Organisation (WTO) 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 resources for his invasion,” she said.

DIT said it will support business and traders with a dedicated export support team to ensure UK businesses can access the information they need related to these sanctions.

The tariff increases will be legislated for by using powers under the UK’s Taxation (Cross-border Trade) Act (2018) and operationalised in the UK’s customs systems by next week.

The latest measures are aimed at further tightening what the UK has termed growing economic pressure on Russia and ensuring it acts in line with sanctions imposed by its G7 allies.

Last week, Britain imposed asset freezes and travel bans on seven leading oligarchs and 386 members of the Russian Duma, or lower house of Parliament.

The UK also highlighted its humanitarian aid to Ukraine, totalling around GBP 400 million, defensive weapons support such as more than 3,600 anti-tank missiles, and civilian supplies like generators and medicines.

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