June 6, 2013
Russia has approved the introduction of a more flexible mechanism for meat import quotas among the countries of the Customs Union, a move that has been repeatedly demanded by Belarus and Kazakhstan.
Experts note that Russia will not be affected by the new policy, while Kazakhstan and Belarus will be able to respond more flexibly to changing market conditions and, in general, will have more freedom to increase the level of imports of particular types of meat.
"The proportional system of tariff quota distribution does not allow flexibility in responding to any changes in meat production levels in the Customs Union, because of the Russian quota volumes recorded in the protocol on its accession to the World Trade Organisation," explained Vitaly Goodin, head of the department of customs and tariff and non-tariff regulation of the Eurasian Commission, the head body of the Customs Union.
"The new system will set quota levels between the difference in production and consumption of meat. Countries will be able to get additional import quota volumes for meat products within this difference or can create additional incentives for boosting domestic meat production."
Sergey Yushin, head of the National Meat Association of Russia, welcomed the innovation, "This is a positive development for the market, as the additional flexibility on the procedure for the establishment of quotas will allow all three countries to achieve internal balance and flexibility, which will make the economy of the meat sector more sustainable and efficient," he said.
At present, almost 90% of all meat import quotas allocated by the Eurasian Commission are granted to Russia. The Russian government has had a long-held dispute with its partners in the Customs Union over quotas, particularly with Belarus, as Russian officials claim local businesses use extra import quotas to re-export meat, particularly pork, to Russia, where prices are higher.
Experts pointed out that the changes to the meat import quota policy are due to a drop of 30% to 40% in Russian pork prices during the last half of the year, meaning Russia can now allow its partners greater import opportunities as re-export has become unprofitable.