The countries have agreed on the form of veterinary certificates that Russian exporters will use to deliver products to Saudi Arabia.
The first supplies are expected to start immediately after Saudi food regulator SFDA includes specific Russian companies in the list of authorised exporters. The first exports are expected to begin before the end of 2017, according to a press release from the veterinary organisation.
This latest approval for meat supplies is a part of a major trade expansion agreed between Russia and Saudi Arabia recently, following a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and the King of Saudi Arabia Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in early October. The trade expansion is mainly focused on deliveries of Russian military equipment to Saudi Arabia.
Earlier Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture had repeatedly listed Saudi Arabia among the most promising foreign markets for Russian meat, alongside China and Iran.
During a press conference following negotiations with Russia, Ahmed bin Sulaiman Al-Rajhi, president of the Saudi chambers of commerce and industry, said that, in total, Saudi Arabia could import meat from Russia with a total value of US$1bn per year.
Al-Rajhi noted that Saudi Arabia imported large quantities of meat for roughly US$20bn per year, with some supplies coming from remote countries like Australia and New Zealand. Russia is much closer, so it has the potential to establish strong exports to the kingdom. He added that if Russia were able to establish exports of US$1bn, “this would be a good start”.
First export plans
Several Russian officials and meat companies have already welcomed the agreement between the two countries and expressed confidence that it will be of mutual benefit to both sides.
Yunus-bek Yevkurov, head of the southern Russian republic of Ingushetia, speaking recently, said his particular region could supply “thousands of tonnes” of meat per annum to Saudi Arabia. The deal will open the gate to other agricultural products from Russia to the local market as well, he said.
In the meantime, he revealed, Ingushetia was in negotiations with some investors from Saudi Arabia, who are interested in implementing projects in Russia. In particular, he said, the Republic may offer some production sites under construction, so that Saudi companies could manufacture meat in Russia and export it to their own country.
Russian agricultural holding Miratorg plans to send trial batches of meat to Saudi Arabia in 2017 and gradually increase export supplies in the next few years, according to the company’s president Viktor Linnik.
He added that Miratorg expected to export meat worth around US$50m to Saudi Arabia in 2018, but stressed that “this should be only the beginning”, as the local market is very promising and the company definitely plans to export more meat to the country.