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Belarus to Benefit Russia's EU Food Bans

Published: August 9, 2014 (Issue # 1823)



  • Alexander Lukashenko surveys a field of wheat in Belarus.
    Photo: Belta Video / YouTube

Belarus stands to profit off the bans that Russia has imposed on a range of Western food imports, with a chance to both boost its own production and, potentially, become a transit zone for banned European goods, economists said Friday.

The Russian government on Thursday published an extensive list of Western food products that have been barred from import to Russia in retaliation against European and U.S. sanctions on Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine.

The ban will derail imports worth an estimated $9 billion a year, including fruit and vegetables, dairy, meat products and fish from the European Union, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway.

On Thursday, Leonid Marinich, Belarus's first deputy agriculture minister, said that his country was ready to shoulder the burden in the event of a food shortage in Russia, referring to the opportunity as a modern-day equivalent to the 19th century gold rush in Klondike, Canada.

"We can make up for many of the Western-made food products," Marinich was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti. "We can supply a variety of cheeses…we can replace Polish apples and Dutch potatoes, we have them all," he said.

Almost as soon as the food bans were announced on Thursday the Russian Internet was chuckling over a joke that tellingly anticipated Belarus's new role.

In the joke, a customer in a busy Russian store is offered some mussels with the improbable label "Made in Belarus." When the customer raises an eyebrow and says that this is impossible — Belarus is, after all, landlocked — he is told that the mussels were made in Belarus, period, and has has no option other than to buy the "Belarusian mussels."

The joke is not so far from reality, as Belarus has, in fact, already dabbled in so-called "grey exports" before, according to Dmitry Bolkunets, an economist at Moscow's Higher School of Economics.

"In recent years, Belarus has successfully exported Polish pork to Russia, which was not produced within the country but was sold with a Belarusian label," Bolkunets said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Sept. 20


Starting on Sept. 18 and ending tomorrow is the Extreme Fantasy Wakeboarding Festival in Sunpark by Sredny Suzdalskoye lake in the Ozerki region of the city.


Those after something more laid back can instead head to Jazz and Wine night at TerraVino with legendary jazz guitarist Ildar Kazahanov. 12/14 Admiralteyskaya Emb.



Sunday, Sept. 21


Learn more about African culture and get some exercise during today’s “Djembe and Vuvuzela,” a bike ride starting in Palace Square that includes several stops where riders can listen to the music of Africa or watch short films about the continent. The riders plan to set off at 4 p.m. and all you need to join is a set of wheels.



Monday, Sept. 22


Do you love puppetry? If so, then be sure to go to BTK-Fest, a five-day festival that starts on Sept. 19 celebrating the art. Contemporaries from France, Belgium, the U.K. and other countries will join Russian artists to put on theatrical performances involving a variety of themes, materials and eras. Workshops and meetings are also scheduled for a chance to discuss the artistic medium in further depth.



Tuesday, Sept. 23


Marina Suhih, Director of the External Communications Department at Rostelecom North-West, and Yana Donskaya, HR Director for Northern Capital Gateway are just some of the confirmed participants of today’s round table discussion on “Interaction with Trade Unions” being hosted by SPIBA. Confirm your attendance with SPIBA by Sept. 22.


Kino Expo 2014, an international film industry convention, will be at LenExpo from today until Sept. 26. The third largest exhibition of film equipment in the world, the expo focuses on not only Russia but former Soviet republics as well.



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