Post-Soviet countries make moves to promote agricultural trade - FAO

25 January 20193 min reading

Capitalizing on macroeconomic stability in 2016 and 2017, many post-Soviet countries scaled up programmes and strategies to diversify agricultural markets, given the view that export growth is lucrative and can be a potential driver of the sector’s overall growth.

FAO’s Review of Agricultural Trade Policies in Post-Soviet Countries 2016-2017 looks at these agricultural trade developments. Providing an analysis of 12 post-Soviet countries, the publication monitors policy changes that influence trade composition and dynamics.

“Transparency in trade and trade policy changes is indispensable,” said FAO economist Iryna Kobuta, a co-editor of the report’s English summary.

The publication was produced under an FAO Regional Initiative supporting countries as they develop agrifood trade policies and create favourable environments for the integration of small and medium-sized agribusinesses into international trade. “Participation in various trade agreements has helped improve national institutions and alignment with international standards,” Kobuta added.

For the first time since 2013, the region registered a positive balance in agricultural trade in 2016 – USD 1.4 billion, according to the report. Grains, fats and oils, oilseeds and fish accounted for almost 60 percent of agricultural exports from the region, with grains alone accounting for 29 percent.

Grain exports from the Russian Federation reached 37 million tonnes in the 2016/17 marketing year, of which 27.6 million tonnes were wheat and wheat flour (in grain equivalent). Ukrainian grain exports were higher mostly due to shipments of maize, which increased by 20 percent to 20.7 million tonnes in 2016/17 (FAO, 2017b). FAO projects grain exports from the region to hit another record in the 2017/18 marketing year, mostly due to continued production growth in the Russian Federation. In contrast, exports from Kazakhstan and Ukraine are expected to be lower in 2017/18 due to reduced plantings and stronger competition from the Russian Federation for export markets

The review cites the FAO-OECD Agricultural Outlook for 2017–2026, which projects a slowdown in global agricultural trade growth compared to the previous decade. Still, agricultural trade has generally proven to be more resilient to macroeconomic volatility than the trade of other goods. Further market liberalization could loosen the relatively high protection of the farm sector and boost agricultural trade growth.

If implemented successfully, export development programmes that were launched in many post-Soviet countries during this period may facilitate the development of high-quality export products and open the door for trade with new partners.

The publication also covers strategies and programmes for agricultural export development in the following countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Republic of Moldova, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

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