Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian urged Armenian food manufacturers on Tuesday to increase their exports to Russia as he discussed with them and senior government officials ways of capitalizing on Russian economic sanctions against Turkey.
The meeting in Yerevan came as the Russian government released a list of mostly agricultural products which Russia will no longer import from Turkey from January 1, 2016. The import ban is part of the sanctions imposed by Moscow in retaliation for the November 24 downing of a Russian warplane near the Syrian-Turkish border.
An Armenian government statement said Abrahamian met with the heads of several government agencies, leaders of business associations and export-oriented entrepreneurs to discuss measures to “stimulate” Armenian exports. In that regard, it said, Deputy Prime Minister Vache Gabrielian presented “possibilities of increasing exports of Armenians products” after the Russian ban on Turkish imports.
“The prime minister called on entrepreneurs not to miss opportunities emerging in the current situation and to increase the volume of exports to the Russian market,” added the statement. It said Abrahamian also instructed relevant government agencies to come up with a “clear plan of actions” aimed at facilitating such an increase.
Armenia appears to have already benefited from a Russian ban on food imports from the United States and Europe which was imposed last year in retaliation for Western economic sanctions against Russia.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, exports of Armenian fruits and vegetables soared by almost 70 percent in physical terms in the first ten months of this year. Almost 84 percent of them went to Russia. Ministry data shows particularly sharp year-on-year rises in shipments of apricots, tomatoes, cucumbers and cabbage.
The Russian sanctions against Turkey apply to these and other agricultural products.
Separate data from the National Statistical Service (NSS) shows that the monetary value of Armenian fruit and vegetable exports was up by only 9 percent, at $32 million, in January-October. This relatively modest gain clearly resulted from a sharp depreciation of the Russian ruble.
The weaker ruble has hit particularly hard Armenian manufacturers of processed foodstuffs and alcoholic beverages oriented towards the Russian market. It also explains why overall Armenian exports to Russia plummeted by almost 30 percent to $179 million in the ten-month period.