Russia concerned about Belarus’ dairy, meat exports much in excess of quotas
Moscow is concerned about the fact that Belarus exports dairy and meat products to Russia considerably in excess of the agreed limits, while Minsk asks for its export quotas to be increased, said Russian Deputy Agriculture Minister Ilya Shestakov, according to the PRIME Business News Agency.
The issue was discussed by Russian Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov and his Belarusian counterpart, Leanid Zyats, during their meeting in Moscow last week.
In particular, the Russian agriculture ministry estimates that Belarus will actually supply 4.1 million tons of dairy products to Russia in 2012 in milk equivalent terms, whereas the quota was 3.7 million tons. In addition, according to the ministry, Belarus sells dairy products at "partly" dumping prices.
Belarus’ milk powder exports have amounted to 26,000 tons this year, whereas the agreed limit was 14,000 tons. "We also drew the attention of our Belarusian colleagues to the fact that the actual supply of dried whey exceeded many times the agreed volume [for 2012]," Mr. Shestakov said. "We agreed on 14,000 tons, whereas Belarus has already supplied 72,000 tons. They promised at the meeting that they would place the situation under special control, and that subsequent deliveries would be in strict accordance with the agreed volumes."
Mr. Shestakov pointed to the non-transparent trade system for Russian-Belarusian trade in dairy products as a major problem. In addition, there are instances of dried whey is blended into powdered milk, that is, dried whey, which is cheaper, is supplied under the guise of milk powder, "which means unfair competition," he said.
Although an agreement was reached on the supply of 170,000 tons of meat from Belarus to Russia this year, Belarus has already exported 332,000 tons, Mr. Shestakov said. Exports of poultry meat and pork have exceeded the agreed volumes six- and 2.5-fold, respectively, he noted.
In addition, the Russian agriculture ministry suspects that not all meat exported from Belarus is of Belarusian origin. "On the one hand, Belarus asks for its quota for meat imports from third countries to be increased," Mr. Shestakov said. "On the other hand, we can see that this meat is re-exported to our country. And we have heard statements from [Belarusian] officials saying that this is very beneficial to them."
While Belarus has promised to make dairy products be supplied in accordance with agreements, it has only "'taken note' of Russia’s concern about its meat imports, explaining that the share of Belarus in Russia’s meat imports is insignificant," Mr. Shestakov noted. "If our Belarusian colleagues fail to take measures, we will suggest reducing the meat import quota for Belarus," he said. "The import quota is needed to eliminate a shortage, not to resell this meat to the Russian Federation."
According to Mr. Shestakov, the ministers agreed to hold a joint board meeting of the agriculture ministries in Belarus in February 2013.
Belarus suggests that Russia should allow it to supply dozens of percent more dairy and meat products than it will actually supply to Russia in 2012, "but we’ll defend the interests of Russian producers," Mr. Shestakov said.