Eurasian Economic Union and Latin America profit from Russia’s food import embargo
by Olivia Kroth
Sanctons would backfire, President Vladimir Putin promised those countries imposing sanctions on Russia. While these states now suffer setbacks, some Latin American countries and the Eurasian Economic Union profit from the Russian food embargo against EU and NATO states. They have a chance of increasing their own food exports to Russia. Cooperation between CELAC, BRICS and the Eurasian Economic Union will bring a major shift of world markets.
Armenia wants to join the Eurasian Economic Union soon. Its food is well-known in the Russian Federation. Russians like to buy Armenian abricots, peaches, juices, marmelade, dried fruits and canned vegetables. «In 2013, we exported about 60.000 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables to Russia. I believe that we can augment this number to 65.000 in 2014. We should also increase our wine exports to Russia since we are a traditional wine-producing country», said Wasgen Safarjan, Head of the Armenian Food Producers Association. Fish products could also play an important role, especially Armenian trout and crabmeat (DIE STIMME RUSSLANDS, 22.08.2014).
Belarus already belongs to the Eurasian Economic Union, together with Russia and Kazakhstan. Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food, Vladimir Grakun, explained that Belarus can export one million tons of potatoes, 107.000 tons of carrots, 30.000 tons of cabbage and 27.000 tons of apples to Russia in 2014 (ITAR TASS, 21.08.2014).
Belarus can furthermore deliver 40 percent more sausages and meat, as well as one-and-a-half more milk and cheese than before. The country already produces blue cheese, Mozzarella, Mascarpone and Ricotta. Deep-frozen snails and other delicatessen are also included in the programme. These products are sent to Moscow, Saint Petersburg and the regions of Bryansk, Smolensk and Voronezh. President Alexander Lukashenko agreed to close the borders of Belarus for food transports from EU countries to Russia. He said that Belarus would respect the Eurasian Economic Union’s customs regulations: «We will fulfill our duty as a member state.» (DIE STIMME RUSSLANDS, 21.08.2014)
The Asian country will join the Eurasian Economic Union at the beginning of 2015 and is prepared for export to the Russian cities of Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg. The country will deliver 200.000 tons of vegetable and fruits: cabbage, carrots, onions, potatoes; abricots, apples, raisin and dried fruits. Kyrgyz farmers are sure that their products will be a lot cheaper and ecologically cleaner than those of the EU. Kyrgyz cattle breeders want to export meat and milk to the Ural region and Siberia. In Kyrgyzstan about 70 percent of the population live from agriculture. In the north, they traditionally grow vegetables and breed cattle. In the south, fruits are produced (DIE STIMME RUSSLANDS, 19.08.2014).
This Asian state is not a member of the Eurasian Economic Union yet, but is also ready to augment its agrarian exports to Russia five-fold: onions and spices, abricots, lemons and melons. Rahmon Ulmasov, Professor of Economy at the Russian-Tajik University in Dushanbe, thinks that his country can sell more than a million tons of agricultural products per year: «We need to create storage space for fruits and vegetables, so we will be able to sell our goods to Russia all year round.» On October 17, a commission for regional cooperation will gather in Moscow. Tajikistan wants to be present with its own pavilion (DIE STIMME RUSSLANDS, 20.08.2014).
The Balkan state of Serbia, a long-time ally of Russia, also sees a good chance of stepping up its exports of agricultural products to Russia. Snezana Savljevic-Boskovic, Serbia’s Minister of Agriculture and Environmental Protection, said that «the Russian side is interested particulary in meat, milk, fruits and vegetables. We can export as much cheese as we produce.» (ITAR TASS, 21.08.2014)
In Argentina exporters of meat and milk are enthusiastic about the good opportunity of augmenting exports to the Russian Federation. On August 19 and 20, two Argentinian Ministers met with their Russian homologues in Moscow. Debora Giorgi, Minister of Industry, and Carlos Casamiquela, Minister of Agriculture, signed new contracts for Argentinian exports of chicken, beef, milk and fruits (LE FIGARO, 19.08.2014, page 23). President Vladimir Putin had prepared the ground when he visited Argentina in mid-July. In an interview with ITAR TASS and PRENSA LATINA he said: «Today, Argentina is one of Russia’s key strategic partners in Latin America. I appreciate our constructive and confidential dialogue with President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. Over the last decade, trade between Russia and Argentina has grown six-fold and reached a stable level of $1.8 billion.»
In Brazil farmers of beef and poultry are willing to jump on the wagon as well. In the first four months of 2014, Brazilian meat exports to Russia grew by 11 percent, making Brazil Russia’s leading foreign supplier of meat. The Brazilian Association of Animal Protein Production hopes to raise the percentage even higher, up to 50 percent for chicken exports to Russia, 450.000 tons per year (LES ECHOS, 19.08.2014, page 15). In his interview President Vladimir Putin commented about Brazil, a partner country in BRICS: «Over the last ten years, our bilateral trade has grown almost three-fold and reached $5.6 billion in 2013.»
Unification of markets
The Russian President has far-reaching plans to unify the markets of the Eurasian Economic Union, BRICS and CELAC, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States: «We think that establishing contacts between CELAC and the countries taking part in the Eurasian Economic Union could open up many new chances. This will create one of the world’s biggest common markets with a population of almost 170 million.» It means that the Russian Federation can bypass the EU and NATO countries for food imports. EU and NATO states will have to look for foreign trade partners elsewhere. So, the sanctions might become a motor for huge shifts in world trade, with the Eurasian Economic Union, BRICS and CELAC as its main axis.
Olivia Kroth: The journalist and author of four books lives in Moscow.