Friday, 16 December 2016

The weeks Black Sea agri-business news roundup

Russia’s Minister of Agriculture  reported to the State Duma that 16/17 grain exports will be about 35mmt and that the country will be self-sufficiency in agricultural products in seven years.

Trade relations between Russia and Turkey appear to be easing with the head of the Russian agriculture watchdog saying that the removal of bans may start from next week with initial plans to drop restrictions on aubergine, vegetable marrow and lettuce. 

Meanwhile relations with Belarus appear to be deteriorating as Russia suspended imports of chicken from five large Belarusian enterprises and banned imports from a number of dairies.  Belarusian Deputy Minister of Agriculture responded by saying they export to 58 countries across the globe and “no one complains about the quality of our products but Russia.”

Keen on encouraging inward investment, Ukraine's Minister of Agriculture met with a French winemaker this week to discuss the recent destruction of his vineyards in Odessa.  This story has been running for some time but basically involves a private viticulture investment being harassed by the local administration.  It's all smoke and mirrors as you would expect but not helped by the Minister saying “I hope the truth will be found”.  

“Hope” is not a word investors like to hear.

Ukraine has exported 12 billion USD of agricultural products so far this year resulting in 8.73 billion USD balance of trade with the biggest share in cereals (4.8 billion USD), fats and oils (3.1 billion USD) and food products (1.8 billion USD).

Ukraine announce they are to strengthen checks on GM crops grown in the country, something they tout every now and then but it’s generally acknowledged as the worst kept secret that much of Ukraine’s soya is GM.  It is not illegal to grow GM plants in Ukraine, but no GMOs have official registration needed for legal cultivation, so the logic goes that if you don’t register it then you are not breaking the laws.

This kind of twisted thinking led Ukraine to make it a legal requirement to label bottled water “без ГМО” (without GMO) and does nothing for the countries credibility.