Russian fruit and vegetable producers have showed their opposition to the import of tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and carrots from Iran under a simplified customs procedure with reduced duties. In the first half of 2017, a free trade zone between Iran and the Eurasian Economic Union, which includes Russia, is expected to come into force.
Back in June, it was revealed that Russia may create a temporary free trade area (FTA) with Iran in the first half of 2017, lasting until 2020, leading to a reduction of customs duties for Iranian goods. A list has subsequently been prepared that features all products whose supply to Russia is a priority for Iran.
This list includes cucumbers and gherkins, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers and other vegetables; canned tomatoes, fresh garlic, onions, shallots, apples, trout, dry milk, meat, chicken and offal, oil palm substitutes for ocoa butter, white sugar, chewing gum and apple juice.
However, the Ministry of Agriculture, which has carried out a risk analysis on the impact of an increase in the import of certain categories of goods from Iran, has been asked by the National Union of fruit and vegetable producers to withdraw tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes and carrots from the free trade regime.
The Association emphasizes that, in the framework of the state programme for the development of domestic agriculture, producers are facing many challenges, starting with the construction of about 1.3 thousand hectares of modern greenhouses up until 2020.
They recall that the programme was launched in 2013. According to the National Union of producers of fruits and vegetables, the construction of these greenhouses started in an area of 100 hectares at a cost of 20 billion roubles.
The viability of these modern greenhouse complexes will rely on the seasonal prices for the products in autumn and spring. In the summer, producers have been operating at a loss and selling their products below cost, and “shipments of imported products grown in milder climates have a direct impact on prices,” stated the producers.
According to the Association, the production of potatoes and carrots is currently actively developing in Russia. For example, potato production in 2015 amounted to 7.6 million tonnes and increased by 22% compared to 2014; meanwhile, the carrot production amounted to 713 thousand tonnes in 2015, 25% up compared to 2014. “This increase is due to the introduction of modern technologies of cultivation and storage, which requires a considerable investment by agricultural producers,” said the Association of Producers in a letter.