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Current Position:Home » News » General News » Topic

Russia still third largest import country in the world

Zoom in font  Zoom out font Published: 2017-05-04  Views: 35
Core Tip: Despite the boycott of the import of fresh fruit and vegetables from EU countries and Turkey, Russia was still the third largest importer of fresh produce globally in the past year.
Despite the boycott of the import of fresh fruit and vegetables from EU countries and Turkey, Russia was still the third largest importer of fresh produce globally in the past year. During the final year before the boycott, Russia was also third. In 2013, this amounted to 8.5 million tonnes, while last year, that number was only 6 million tonnes, or 30 per cent less. In value, Russia dropped from third place to eighth place on the list of import countries. The value of the import amounted to 4.2 billion euro in the past year, compared to 6.2 billion euro in 2013. Expressed in (sharply devalued) roubles, the import value increased from 260 billion in 2013 to 320 billion in 2016.

The trade figures of Russia have to be taken with a pinch of salt, for that matter. Officially, the Russian import figures aren’t complete. Many products from boycotted countries arrive in Russia through Belarus in particular. The export figure from Belarus is much higher than the import figure from Russia. Furthermore, it is also noticeable that Belarus’s import figure is much higher than the export figure. All in all, more fresh fruit and vegetables will have ended up in Russia than might appear to be the case at first glance.

More than 50,000 tonnes of re-export to Russia through the Netherlands
According to figures from KCB/GroentenFruitHuis, no Dutch products are now sent (directly) to Russia anymore. Dutch fruit and vegetables are sent to Belarus, but in the past year, less was sent than in previous years. A fair amount of re-export is sent to Russia through the Netherlands. According to CBS and Eurostat, that amounted to about 54,000 tonnes in 2016, and more than 57,000 tonnes in 2015. In the past two years, about 30,000 tonnes of fresh fruit and vegetables from and through the Netherlands was shipped to Belarus.

Despite the boycott, many Polish apples ended up in Russia. According to Eurostat, 650,000 tonnes of apples from Poland were exported to Belarus and other former Soviet states last year. Besides, about 300,000 tonnes of other fresh fruit and vegetable products were exported from or through Poland to various former Soviet states. Important products in addition to apples are tomatoes, mushrooms, pears, headed cabbage and tangerines.

Furthermore, many fruit and vegetables are shipped to mostly Belarus through Lithuania. In 2016, this flow was considerably smaller with 560,000 tonnes, compared to 1.28 million tonnes in 2015. Products that go further south and then east through Lithuania are: pears, apples, peaches and nectarines.

Imports of apples and tomatoes halved
Back to the official figures from Russian Customs on the import of Russia. According to this source, more than six million of fresh fruit and vegetables were imported into Russia in 2016. That is 11 per cent less than in 2015, and compared to the final year before the boycott, it is 30 per cent less. The most important import product, bananas, distorts the image somewhat, because the import of bananas has remained level in recent years with an amount of 1.35 million tonnes. The import of other products decreased by more than a third, from 7.2 million tonnes in 2013 to 4.7 million tonnes in 2016. Over the 2013/16 period, hardly any product can be found of which not (much) less was imported. In fact, only watermelons (for low kilogram prices) grew in import. Of important import products such as apples and tomatoes, import even halved.

Especially related countries profited
Regarding suppliers, a number of remarkable things can be seen. The boycott of products from mostly EU countries since the summer of 2014 is naturally obvious. The boycott of a great number of Turkish products was added to that from 1 January 2016. Which countries profited from the lost trade from these countries? The number of countries is limited. The most important ones are: Egypt, Azerbaijan, Serbia, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Georgia, Bosnia, Uruguay, Abkhazia and Syria. So clearly countries with a certain relation to Russia in particular. The import of Moroccan products has increased, but not as much as was expected. Of the 350,000 tonnes of Moroccan product imported in 2016, 200,000 tonnes concerned tangerines, and 125,000 tonnes were tomatoes. The import of Moroccan tomatoes has grown considerably, for that matter. This is mostly due to disappearing tomatoes from various EU countries.

Remarkable non-profiters: China, Israel and South Africa
However, some countries which were expected to profit form the boycott, didn’t. The largest example of that is China. After banana country Ecuador, China is Russia’s largest supplier. The import of fresh fruit and vegetables from this country has remained practically at the same level, despite some fluctuations, since 2010. Russia primarily imports apples, tomatoes and tangerines from China. Other countries that didn’t profit are Israel, South Africa, Argentina and Chile.

Apples now mostly from Serbia, tomatoes from Morocco and pears from Belarus
In 2013, Russia imported 1.37 million apples, 800,000 tonnes of which from EU countries. Last year, they only imported 675,000 tonnes, with Serbia as the most important supplier, followed by China and Moldavia. The import of tomatoes decreased from 866,000 tonnes in 2013 to 460,000 tonnes last year. For tomatoes, it was mostly Turkish product of which less was imported. In previous years, 350 to 365,000 tonnes of tomatoes were imported from Turkey, while none were imported last year due to the implemented boycott. Previously, 260,000 tonnes of tomatoes were imported from EU countries. Besides Morocco, Russia has been getting its tomatoes more often from countries such as Azerbaijan and Armenia in recent years.

The decrease of 37 per cent in the import of pears has remained limited in relation. The decrease was largely compensated for by imports from Belarus. In the two last years, about 100,000 tonnes of pears were imported from and through Belarus according to official Russian figures. This figure does correspond to that of Belarussian exports.

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