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7 Dec, 2009 05:57

Russia considering ban on food imports

Russia’s National Security Council is considering a ban on food imports to stimulate domestic production.

The UN says every seventh person in the world is experiencing difficulties getting food.

It is an idea that has been around in Russia for 12 years. Keeping the country fed is a matter of national security and therefore comes under the responsibility of the President and National Security Council.

National Security Council chief Nikolai Patrushev said the issue was vitally important for the longer term.

“Russia is not fully self-sufficient in food. We are forced to import a number of products and we cannot get rid of this dependence in the near future.”

One of the ideas of the Food Security Doctrine is securing major shares in the market for domestic producers.

The targets are 95% for grain, 90% for milk, and no less than 80% for meat and sugar.  Discount stores do not stock a large amount of imported foods, so the possible ban would only affect higher-end stores according to Natalia Smirnova, a retail analyst at Unicredit Securities.

“It will mainly influence the grocery supermarkets such as Azbuka Vkusa, or Seventh Continent, because those are stores that have a high share of imported foods sold in their stores. So it will affect those companies. But my assumption that banning imports is in order to support local producers and, of course, it will benefit local companies, especially in those types of foods where we have good quality substitutes.”

Similar plans were discussed 12 years ago, but to no avail. Then-President Boris Yeltsin refused to sign it. Now it is up to President Dmitry Medvedev to give his answer – the deadline is set for the end of December.