Dutch minister in Moscow to safeguard exports

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Deputy Agriculture minister Henk Bleker will meet his Russian counterpart Elena Borisovna Skrynnik in Moscow on Monday in an attempt to remove obstacles to Dutch exports of vegetables, fruit, meat and dairy.

Russia is an important market for Dutch agriculture, but gaining access is difficult because of the strict requirements of the inspection services. Exports to Russia have increased explosively since 2004 and in 2008 even amounted to more than 1.5 billion euros, with vegetables and ornamental plants the frontrunners. Exports dropped to 1.1 billion euros as a result of the economic crisis, but outside the European Union, Russia is the Netherlands’ main export market after the United States.

About five percent of Russian Agricultural imports come from the Netherlands, but the country is engaged in a programme to boost the level of self-reliance of its Agricultural sector. The programme could provide opportunities for Dutch businesses because of the Netherlands’ extensive technological knowhow, but it also means that the Russian authorities are casting an increasingly critical eye on imports by means of stricter veterinary and phytosanitary inspections.

Russia has questioned the independence of the Dutch inspections services which are privately owned, while Dutch exporters are complaining about trade barriers as a result of unreasonable Russian inspection requirements, which allegedly are much stricter than those of the European Union.

On Monday, Minister Bleker will try to convince his Russian colleague that the Dutch system of phytosanitary inspections meets all Russian standards and that there is no reason for the Russian authorities to refuse Dutch products. The Russian inspection services regularly carry out inspections at businesses in the Netherlands as well as on imports in Russia. From time to time these inspections lead to Dutch products being banned from the Russian market.


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