Monday, September 1, 2014

Sorting out the winners and losers from Russia's food sanctions | Russia Direct

On August 6, President Vladimir Putin hit back hard at the countries that had introduced tougher sanctions against Russia, ordering a temporary trade ban on food and agricultural imports from these nations. The next day, a full list of products to be banned was released and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev officially confirmed that Russia has banned fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, milk and dairy imports from the U.S., the EU, Australia, Canada and Norway. He also stated that the ban was effective immediately and would last for one year. Russia may also introduce “supportive measures” for the car, shipping and aerospace industries, Medvedev said.

While the tit-for-tat sanctions move was greeted by the Russian media quite positively, White House officials dismissed Putin’s move. They pointed out that the counter-sanctions would be much more harmful to Russia than to the U.S. or Europe, hinting that they might result in greater inflationary pressure on Russian food prices. According to U.S. Treasury official David S. Cohen, the move amounts to a “cruel irony” and will limit Russians’ access to a substantial part of their food supply, given that Russia is the world’s 5th largest food importer, according to the WTO.

The EU also weighed in on the counter-sanctions. The European Commission issued a statement by European Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos, who emphasized that the EU would “react in a proportionate and rapid way should the situation arise.” As part of a broader strategy to “reorient rapidly towards new markets and opportunities,” Mr. Ciolos also announced a meeting of senior agricultural experts from all EU member states to take place on August 14.

These recent developments raise questions about what consequences the food sanctions might lead to in the long run. What are the implications of this policy move both for Russia and the West? Russia Direct asked Russian and foreign experts to share their views on how the situation will develop in the near future.

Complete story at - Sorting out the winners and losers from Russia's food sanctions | Russia Direct

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