Agriculture Minister Sergo Karapetian formed on Friday a task force charged with boosting exports of Armenian agricultural products and prepared foodstuffs to Russia following a Russian ban on food imports from Europe and the United States.
Karapetian acknowledged earlier this week that the Armenian government is trying to capitalize on the ban imposed by Moscow in retaliation against Western economic sanctions. He told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am) that he and other senior Agriculture Ministry officials have met Armenian farmers and agribusiness representatives to discuss ways of filling some of the resulting gap in the Russian food market.
A ministry statement said that the “working group” was set up by Karapetian with the aim of “increasing the volume of agricultural and food exports and organizing the export process in a coordinated manner.”
The ministry also released phone numbers of Deputy Agriculture Minister Robert Makarian, Armenia’s trade representative to Russia and several other senior officials dealing with the issue. It said exporters can contact them “in case of problems arising in the process.”
Russia is already the principal market for fruits, vegetables, dairy and prepared foodstuffs exported from Armenia. Karapetian said on Wednesday that the government hopes to help double their delivery to Russian consumers.
According to the National Statistical Service, Armenian agricultural and food exports amounted to $415 million last year, equivalent to 28 percent of the country’s total export revenue. Overall Armenian exports to Russia stood at $334.5 million in 2013.