MOSCOW, April 7. /TASS/. Russia will shift the emphasis in the agriculture industry from import substitution to expansion of agricultural exports, Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachev said Friday.
"I’d like to stress that our key goal is to keep the growth rates in the (agriculture) sector, and to raise the competitiveness of the Russian produce on international markets. Previously we mainly talked about import substitution whereas now we’re focusing on export expansion," he said.
According to Tkachev, Russia’s food imports dropped 6% in 2016 to $25 bln in money terms, while exports increased 5% to $17 bln.
"We’re facing a task of promoting food exports, meaning Rosselkhoznadzor’s function to lift barriers on the way of Russian produce, and the Ministry’s task to support its promotion at international exhibitions, and the farmers themselves will need to transform their business processes in order to meet global market standards," he added.
Russia’s agricultural export is expected to be maintained at the level of $17 bln in 2017, Tkachev said.
Russia exported agricultural products worth $17.1 bln in 2016.
"Our export forecasts remain at the level of figures indicated early this year - about $17 bln. We believe this is a suitable figure for us," the minister said.
According to Tkachev, strengthening of the national currency creates risks for agricultural products export.
"Ruble strengthening is one of risk factors. It poses a risk to export positions," Tkachev said.
Tkachev also said that Russia may allocate 250 bln rubles ($4.4 bln) for support of the agricultural sector in 2018.
"Our budget of 2017 amounts to 230 bln rubles ($4 bln) in total. I hope we will reach 250 bln rubles ($4.4 bln) in the budget for the next year," Tkachev said.