Speaking at a press conference in Moscow, Tkachev revealed that Russian imports of agricultural products from the US were estimated at US$300 million (m) per year. According to Tkachev, this figure only accounted for 1- 2% of Russia’s total agriculture imports and, in his opinion, Russia “will be able to replace that production on the domestic market”.
According to data from the Russian Federal Customs Service, the country still imports some non-food products of animal origin from the US. In particular, in 2017, Russia purchased 1,350 tonnes (t) of cattle semen for $5.2m, accounting for 52% of total Russian imports in this category last year. Russia also imported live breeding cattle from the US, although the country purchased many more breeding animals from Canada and the European Union (EU).
Russia’s plan is to impose new trade restrictions against the US meat industry in response to the sanctions introduced by the Trump administration in early April against 24 top Russian businessmen and government officials over reported “malign activity” by the country. Those sanctions, among others, have affected major Russian agricultural holding Kuban.
The bill stipulated that the proposed sanctions could be extended to other countries that joined in the recent US sanctions against Russia. However, this could bring major problems to Russia’s beef industry, which relies heavily on imports of breeding cattle from Europe. In 2017, Russia imported 58,300 head of breeding cattle worth $135m, with 35% purchased in the Netherlands and 34% in Germany, according to the Federal Customs Service.
Trade restrictions included in the bill submitted on 13 April to the State Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, aimed not only to ban all agricultural trade between Russia and US, but would also allow Russian companies to release products under US brand names without permission from the brands’ rightful owners.
Mikhail Emelyanov, a Russian MP, explained that the authorities could enable both Russian and non-Russian residents to release some products under US brands to be sold in the Russian market, with the trademark holder not able to appeal to the courts to prohibit this trade.
A spokesperson in the Russian meat industry, who wished to remain anonymous, told GlobalMeatNews that it was very unlikely Russian meat producers would use this opportunity, although, in theory, some companies could benefit from manufacturing feed additives and other animal feed products under popular and world-recognised US brand names. He added, however, that it was hard to imagine that any respectable company in Russia would do that.
The bill is scheduled for review by the State Duma on 15 May.