"Following a year of negotiation and consultation between the Ministry of Jihad-e-Agriculture and representatives from Russia, for the first time in the history of Iran-Russia trade cooperation, we managed to take an important step towards establishing export deliveries of Iranian dairy and protein products to the Russian market," said Fathi.
During the negotiations, Russia was represented by the assistant to the head of Rosselkhoznadzor Alexei Alexeenko, who claimed that Russia was satisfied with the level of sanitary control at Iranian poultry facilities.
"Russia has received details on the structure and methods of Iran’s phytosanitary service, as well as how the country’s product certification system works. It is noteworthy that, in Iran, any cultivation and use of GMO products is prohibited," he said.
Iran’s Agricultural Ministry also expects the list of approved suppliers to be expanded shortly. However, not all companies are up to Russia’s exacting requirements on production quality. "Russia is a member of the Eurasian Customs Union. In some cases, its animal health requirements for the breeding of animals and birds are even stricter than in the European Union," stated Fathi.
Iranian officials have estimated that the country is able to supply Russia with around 100,000 tonnes of poultry products a year. Iran is fully self-sufficient in poultry production and is currently looking to develop export opportunities.
"In recent years, Iran has implemented a state program for the construction of new poultry farms, so the country is now able to export large amounts of chicken to Russia," said Andrei Lugansky, head of the trade and economics bureau at the Russian Embassy in Iran.
He added that Russia was considering imports of wide range of products from Iran, including vegetables, fruits and fish.
According to Fathi, Russia’s retaliatory sanctions against Western countries have created an opening for third countries, such as Iran, to supply agricultural products valuing a total of US$40 billion. However, to do this, Iranian manufacturers need to create a relevant export infrastructure.
Meanwhile, Russian officials consider Iran not only as a potential supplier, but as an importer of meat as well. Alexeenko explained that Russia may soon ship supplies of meat [to Iran] based on a barter deal, ‘oil in exchange for goods’. This means Iran will export oil to Russia, which in turn will supply Iran with agricultural products, such as grain, cheese and meat.