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MOSCOW, January 17. /TASS/. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev will on Saturday hold a meeting on “stable operation of the key branches of agriculture - meat, dairy and sugar ones”, the cabinet press service reported.
The meeting participants will also discuss results of agribusiness development in 2014.
Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and heads of agricultural unions will deliver reports. Deputy Agriculture Minister Dmitry Yuryev, a number of ministers and department heads, Central Bank head Elvira Nabiullina, representatives of banks and leasing companies will attend the event.
Earlier, Medvedev said the past year was “very successful” for domestic agriculture, as the grain harvest of over 105 million metric tons was the second result for the entire contemporary history (the only better harvest was gathered in 2008 - some 108 million tons). Good results were also reached on a number of other crops.
Last year, a milestone event for Russian agriculture was the imposition of countersanctions in response to Western restrictions placed upon Russia. As a result, the Russian market became closed for meat, dairy, vegetable and other products from many Western countries. In connection with this, the task of import substitution in the agricultural sector came to the foreground.
For additional support of domestic producers of meat, vegetables and fruits, a new wording of the state program to develop the agricultural sector was approved in December 2014. The agricultural sector state support scenario envisions allocation of 2.13 trillion rubles ($32.6 billion at current rates) until 2020 from the federal budget. In 2015, a total of 187.9 billion rubles ($2.9 billion) is to be allocated for the purposes.
The program stipulates that by 2020, agricultural production in Russia will grow 17.9% on 2013, and livestock product output will grow by 18.8%
Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov reported to the prime minister in early January that the program of import substitution in the industry is expected to be implemented “within two years at maximum.”
The system of import substitution had to be introduced in Russia in connection with imposition of Western sanctions on Russia for its position on Ukraine and Moscow’s countersanctions.
Russian officials and companies came under the first batch of Western sanctions, including visa bans and asset freezes, after Russia incorporated Crimea in mid-March 2014 after a coup in Ukraine in February 2014.
The West announced new sectoral penalties against Russia in late July 2014 over Moscow’s position on Ukrainian events, in particular, what the West claimed was Moscow’s alleged involvement in mass protests in Ukraine’s war-torn southeast.
In response, Russia imposed on August 6, 2014 a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the United States and Norway.
The list of products whose imports Russia banned as part of its response to Western nations includes cattle meat (fresh, chilled and refrigerated), pork (fresh, chilled and refrigerated), poultry meat and all poultry edible by-products, salted meat, pickled meat, dried meat, smoked meat, fish, clams and other water invertebrates, milk and dairy products, vegetables, edible roots and tuber crops.
The list also contains fruit and nuts, sausage and analogous meat products, meat by-products or blood, as well as products made of them, ready-to-eat products including cheeses and cottage-cheese based on vegetable fats.
New punitive measures against Russia were imposed in September 2014.
Russia has constantly dismissed accusations of “annexing” Crimea, because Crimea reunified with Russia voluntarily after a referendum, as well as allegations that Moscow could in any way be involved in hostilities in the southeast of Ukraine.
Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said October 30, 2014 that while pursuing a policy of import substitution, Russia should not confine itself to replacement of goods imports but should also focus on substitution of foreign developments.
Putin on import substitution in his address to parliament
In his address to the Federal Assembly, Russia's parliament, on December 4, 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the import substitution policy is among the country’s long-term priorities.
“I want to stress that reasonable import substitution - reasonable is the key word here - is a long-term priority that we need in order to change, irrespective of external conditions,” Putin said.
“Moreover, import substitution programs must encourage the creation of a large group of industrial companies that can be competitive not only domestically but also on foreign markets. These companies exist in Russia. They are highly efficient and have export potential - very good potential,” he said.
“But they are short of capital, technology, personnel and equipment. We must remove as many of these restrictions as possible. We must provide investment incentives so that these companies can increase growth, increase their capitalization and production several-fold and become established on foreign markets,” Putin said.
“I am instructing the Agency for Strategic Initiatives to join forces with Vnesheconombank, the Russian Direct Investment Fund and other development institutions to draft a relevant program and system. The first pilot program for the support for non-commodity companies must be launched already next year,” he said.
“The integrated credit and insurance export support center, which will start operating in 2015, will stimulate domestic exporters. Its services will be available to all non-commodity companies, both big and small,” Putin said in his address.