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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

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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