The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) has temporarily banned exports of key foodstuffs from its member states, including Armenia, to other countries, a senior Armenian official confirmed on Monday.
Deputy Economy Minister Varos Simonian said the Russian-led trade bloc’s executive body, the Eurasian Economic Commission, has initiated the three-month ban in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The ban will not apply to humanitarian aid that might be provided by Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan, he said.
The foodstuffs in question include various cereals, soya beans, sunflower seeds, onions and garlics. Unlike Russia, Armenia is not a major exporter of these products.
The Eurasian Economic Commission explained on its website that the export restrictions are meant to “provide the population with sufficient quantities of such products during an escalation of the sanitary-epidemiological situation.”
The Moscow-based commission at the same time decided last week to temporarily lift import duties on foodstuffs imported by the EEU member states.
“We are talking, for example, about potatoes, onions, garlics, carrots and a number of other products,” Simonian told a news conference. “Their imports to the EEU area will be taxed at zero rates.”
This is aimed at preventing major increases in food prices in Russia and the four other ex-Soviet states.
The prices of flour, sugar, butter and cooking oil sold in Yerevan supermarkets and smaller stores have already risen in recent days.
Gegham Gevorgian, the head of Armenia’s State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition (SCPEC), blamed this on a coronavirus-related weakening of the national currency, the dram, which began last month.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian echoed this explanation when he answered questions from Facebook users later in the day. “I must point out that some of these price hikes may be connected with exchange rate fluctuations,” he said.