GENEVA, June 12. /TASS/. Russia, a major global food exporter, doesn’t plan to leave the market, Deputy Economic Development Minister Vladimir Ilyichev told TASS in an interview. He leads the Russian delegation at the 12th ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization that opened in Geneva on Sunday.
Causes of the food crisis
"As a major supplier of food on the world market, we intend to remain there, to supply our products to partners, our traditional consumers, and we are ready to take all the actions available to us to that end, which we have repeatedly stated," the official said. "But in order for the system to work, it’s necessary for all participants in the process to strive for results."
The issue of food supplies will be discussed at the current WTO conference. However, views on the causes of the food crisis "differ significantly," Ilyichev said. Russia assumes that the reasons for the increase of food prices in the world market "are largely related to inflation, which was caused by the injection of money, which wasn’t backed by goods, to eliminate the consequences of the pandemic in developed countries."
"As long ago as last year, there were big problems with the level of prices for wheat and some other goods. This, of course, is also related with supply chain disruptions during the pandemic, but now, unfortunately, this has been exacerbated by what is essentially a sanctions war," the deputy minister said. "When they try to blame us for the food crisis and its possible intensification in the foreseeable future, we say, "Gentlemen, first, eliminate the consequences that you have contrived by breaking supply chains, preventing grain from being shipped and insurance be secured for food shipments."
"We don’t really expect that a solution [of the food problem] will be found at the WTO platform," Ilyichev said. He noted that at the time when this issue was discussed at a number of other international platforms, the European Union adopted the sixth package of sanctions on Russia, and one of the largest banks in the country, Rosselkhozbank, was disconnected from the SWIFT system. "How then should food be shipped, if it becomes extremely difficult to pay for it," the head of the delegation said.
Sanctions on Russia
The deputy minister said the issue of sanctions on Russia "will obviously be discussed in different formats" at the current WTO conference. Representatives of Western countries, apparently, will again try to use the forum to make the case that the problems that have arisen in world markets are a consequence of Russia's actions. "We disagree with this. We are trying to calmly explain that we intend to continue participating in the international trade system," Ilyichev said. Russia "is not going to cut itself off from the world and break off traditional ties," he said. Moscow still sees "benefits in participating in international trade and the division of labor," the official said.
When asked whether Western countries should be expected to try to use the WTO platform to impose, as they do in other international organizations, a politicized discussion about events in Ukraine, Ilyichev said, "Yes, we assume that [they] will make exactly the same speeches here that they have been making in recent months. But in our opinion, it’s now necessary to agree to go back to the normal application of the rules of trade." The sanctions policy of the states that Russia designated as unfriendly, effectively destroys this system, the deputy minister stated. Moscow believes that "it’s necessary to discuss how to preserve this system, because no one will benefit from the breakup of the world into blocs.".