Russian lawmaker calls for poultry meat import embargo

Russia needs to fully ban meat imports, says Yevgeny Savchenko, a Russian senator. Photo: Branimir Petakov
Russia needs to fully ban meat imports, says Yevgeny Savchenko, a Russian senator. Photo: Branimir Petakov

Russia needs to create a state reserve of meat products and fully ban meat imports, including from the countries considered friendly, to balance the domestic poultry and pork markets, Yevgeny Savchenko, a Russian senator, said.

“Firstly, we will create a strategic food reserve urgently needed in the current situation. Secondly, the surplus of poultry and pork, which is about 1 million tonnes, will be secured by domestic sales not dependent on external restrictions,” Savchenko said, adding that the government must create “an effective anti-inflationary intervention tool for regulating prices in the meat products market for the future”.

The ban should be complete and cover all meat imports, including from countries of South America, according to Savchenko.

Dmitry Patrushev, head of the Russian Agricultural Ministry, said that after a series of 2021 setbacks associated primarily with an unfavourable epizootic situation, Russian livestock and poultry production shows positive dynamics and is expected to hit 16 million tonnes this year. He added that the level of self-sufficiency in meat would exceed 100% in 2022.

A dangerous idea

Sergey Yushin, executive director of the Russian National Meat Association, lambasted the idea of fully banning meat imports, emphasizing that such a measure would harm the Russian meat industry.

“Everywhere in the world, something is being sold, and something is being bought. Many countries, like Russia, can well provide themselves with meat, but we have active bilateral trade with them. When joining the WTO, Russia assumed certain obligations which must be fulfilled. It must be assumed that Savchenko proposed to ban imports from friendly Belarus, from which we import more than 60% of poultry and 40% of beef,” Yushin said, adding that import restrictions could entail reiteration from some countries, which will jeopardize Russian meat exports.

“When we want to ban something, we must understand that we can simultaneously block the supply of [our] meat abroad. For example, there is practically no chicken feet consumption in Russia, while it is a delicacy in China. In the event of a ban on imports, we may lose the Chinese market,” Yushin said.

“We must not forget that negotiations on access to the markets of other countries for our meat products sometimes last for 7-8 years with the involvement of the country’s top leaders. It is foolish to lose such achievements,” he added.

Vladislav Vorotnikov Eastern European correspondent