MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Russia may tighten retaliatory sanctions against Western nations to include a ban on imports of cars, if the United States and the European Union impose additional sanctions on Moscow, the Vedomosti daily newspaper reported today.
Following Russia's standoff over Ukraine, Western nations imposed sanctions on Moscow including on its financial and energy sectors, and put dozens of Russians close to President Vladimir Putin on a sanctions list.
Russia, which denies allegations it is arming separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, may fully or partly ban imports of cars, the Vedomosti newspaper said, citing sources.
Imported vehicles accounted for 27 percent of sales of passenger cars in the first half of 2014, while truck imports accounted for 46 percent, and 13 percent for buses, according to Vedomosti.
Overall car sales in Russia dropped 5.5 percent to 2.6 million last year, according to data from the Moscow-based Association of European Businesses. Problems associated with the Ukraine conflict and a weak ruble have led the AEB to revise its 2014 outlook for the market from a 1.6 percent decline to a 12 percent drop this year.
The new ban would not apply to foreign automakers' production inside Russia, the paper said. Ford Motor Co., Volkswagen Group, Renault, Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. are among automakers with production facilities inside Russia.
The paper added that proposals for new measures had already been sent to Putin for consideration but that no decision had been taken to prepare any new sanctions yet.
New trade restrictions are possible in the event Western nations impose additional sanctions on Moscow, the paper added.
Russia has imposed a ban on certain agricultural imports from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway.
It has also said the government could introduce protective measures in aircraft, shipbuilding and automotive industries.
Automotive News Europe contributed to this report