SA trade with Russia set to increase

In December 2011, Russia was finally invited to join the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It has until 15 June to ratify its membership and, 30 days later, it will become the WTO’s 154th fully-fledged member.

- Advertisement -

Quantitative restrictions on imports, such as quotas and authorisation requirements, that cannot be justified under WTO provisions will be eliminated – and this should make trade with Russia easier and result in an increase in exports from SA.

“Barriers to entry make Russia a difficult country to import into. However, Russia has agreed to undertake a series of commitments to open its trade regime and accelerate its integration in the world economy,” explained Gert van Rensburg of the department of agriculture’s Directorate: International Trade.

“It’s believed SA’s exports to Russia can increase substantially. Russia is the largest consumer market in Central and Eastern Europe and, in 2010, its GDP was US$1,479 trillion. Food products and agricultural raw materials constitute 18% of total imports.”

- Advertisement -

Some products that will benefit are dairy products (where the applied tariff will decline from 19,8% to 14,9%); cereals (15,1% to 10%), oilseeds, fats and oils (9% to 7,1%); wood and paper (13,4% to 8%) and sugar (US$243/ton to US$223/ton). Tariffs for cotton will remain at zero, added Van Rensburg, who recently completed a market report on Russia.

Currently, SA’s top agricultural exports to Russia include fruit and citrus; preserved peaches and nectarines; wine; jams and fruit jellies; pineapple juice; and tobacco. Products not yet exported to Russia include frozen cuts of beef, pork and chicken; cheese; food preparations; animal feed preparations; cotton; butter; beer; potatoes; and onions.

Fruit and oranges made up 43,5% of SA’s exports to Russia in 2010, at a value of R1 217 million. “Russia is a very important citrus market for us. We export about 12% of our fruit into that market,” said Citrus Growers Association CEO Justin Chadwick. “We see not only Russia but the whole region, including countries like Ukraine and Kazakhstan, as being a big potential growth node for growers.”

Agricultural Business Chamber CEO Dr John Purchase said SA’s trade with Russia has grown well in recent years and it can become “a more important trading partner in the future.”

Gert van Rensburg’s full study is available at