Russian food embargo to be extended

By Vladislav Vorotnikov

- Last updated on GMT

Russian food embargo to be extended

Related tags Vladimir putin

Russia’s embargo on food from the European Union (EU), US, Canada and a number of other countries will be extended beyond August 2015, following a speech by the Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev at the Food Security Forum in Rostov Oblast. 

The embargo is expected to last beyond the end of 2016 with analysts predicting it may not be lifted until 2018-2020 when Russia reaches its target of self-sufficiency in livestock production.

In addition to the ‘sanctions war’, the government will also seek a way to further boost state support of agricultural industry. “Naturally, our actions will continue to depend on the actions of our partners. According to their statements, they still do not want and do not plan to return to the [Russian] market, but we are not going to beg them,”​ said Medvedev.

Most Russian officials supported the position of the prime minister, claiming that some producers and countries have the chance to recommence trade with Russian market.

“If sanctions [against Russia] are not lifted, it means the embargo will not be cancelled,” ​said deputy prime minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who is dealing with meat industry issues in the government. “We, of course, have no reason to cancel it. Some adjustment is possible, but they took place last year as well, when we were allowing or banning particular products. Such things can be changed, but no radical solutions are planned here.”

Prior to the Forum, Dmitry Peskov, press secretary for president Vladimir Putin, stated that particular companies from countries on the ‘sanction list’ could return to the Russian market with supplies of raw materials. However, this would only be possible only if they invested money in the construction of processing facilities in Russia, so they would supply raw meat products to their own enterprises. So far, no such project have been announced, but Russian officials said that businesses are considering the proposal.

Medvedev also stated that during the first five months of 2015 imports of sanctioned products dropped by almost third “but the market almost didn’t notice that”​. According to the report of the Russian Federal Customs Service, between January and May of 2015, imports of meat to Russia dropped by 59.4%. Beef imports fell by 40.8% and pork by 59.6%, compared to the same period last year.

The report also said that a number of countries benefited from the embargo during this period. Turkey increased supplies of meat to the Russian market by 940%, year-on-year, while Columbia saw beef exports to Russia increase by 10 times, compared to the same period in 2014.

Russian companies said they did not believe the government would lift the embargo. One meat producer, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “In private talks with investors, Russian authorities say that the current market conditions, which have been created after the food embargo, will last for several years, so it is clear that the country’s government does not have any intention to cancel it. In this case, all talks and protective measures for domestic business seem meaningless.”

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