EU agri-food sector ‘remarkably’ resilient one year on from Russian ban – Commission

Just over one year ago, the Russian Govenment announced an embargo on imports of a range of agricultural products from the EU, United States Canada, Australia and Norway.

Meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables were the targeted categories and on 25 June this year, Russia announced the extension of the import embargo by one year (until August 2016).

According to the Commission one year on, it is clear that the EU agri-food sector has been remarkably resilient. In most regions, most of the affected sectors have been able to find alternative markets, either within the EU or beyond.

It says compared to the equivalent period one year before, overall EU agri-food exports to Russia between August 2014 and May 2015 decreased from € 9.4 billion to € 5.4 billion (-43%).

This was the result of the near complete disappearance of exports within the banned product categories and a slight decrease for products not subject to the ban, the latter partly driven by the devaluation of the Russian rouble.

However it also says at the same time, total EU agri-food exports to third countries increased in value by 4.8%.

In spite of the Russian ban, monthly extra-EU28 exports (all agri-food products) reached an all-time high in March 2015 at almost €12 billion, according to the Commission.

May 2015 exports also were higher than twelve months before (+5%), he said.

Indeed, according to the Commission over the entire period since the Russian embargo started, the EU agri-food sector has managed to compensate the losses in export sales to Russia by increasing exports to other main destinations and alternative markets.

The table below indicates the trade developments for the most important banned products.

Russia

The Commission says major gains in export values have been achieved in the US, China, Switzerland and in a number of key Asian markets, such as Hong Kong and the Republic of Korea.

This is especially true for meat.

EU exports in bovine meat and poultry between August 2014 and May 2015 increased by 22.7 % and 4.9 % respectively compared to the equivalent period twelve months before, it says.

For pigmeat, export losses could be limited to a 1.1 % decrease.

For dairy products, butter exports fully recovered from the initial shock of the Russian ban and, looking at the observed period, achieved a 1.3 % higher value compared to the period one year before, due to an increase on markets of Middle East countries, it says.

However for cheese and milk powders, however, export values still lag behind and in terms of exports of fruits and vegetables, the value of exports registered is still lower than compared to the period one year before the Russian embargo, except for apples which increased by 0.8 %.

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