A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
A look at the news

“The WTO: A shark-infested pool”1

8 Juillet 2013

After 18 long years of negotiations, Russia joined the WTO on August 22, 2012. Nearly one year later, stakeholders in the Russian economy are expressing some bitterness: The benefits from joining the WTO are slow in coming. Worse even, the membership seems to be detrimental to some economic sectors, such as agriculture. And in spite of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s pledge to improve competitiveness gains within three to five years, various Russian business leaders and Western economists feel that the country’s economic situation could severely worsen until then.

A lowered tariff protection level––especially for livestock––and the increasing domestic and foreign competition have affected various sectors such as the pork and dairy industries, and more significantly small- and medium-size farms.

A report by the Saint Petersburg Politics Foundation indicates that taxes on pork imports went from 15 to zero percent for the scheduled quota, and from 75 to 65 percent in case of quota overrun. As a result, pork imports from Europe significantly increased, thus leading to a 30 percent drop in Russian pork prices. In addition, pork production costs have risen due to the high price of livestock feed.

Valentina Matviyenko, Chair of the Russian Federation Council, shares this observation in saying that food imports significantly increased since Russia’s accession to the WTO, and now represent a threat for the agribusiness industry.

More than demonstrating the irrelevance of Russia’s accession to the WTO––a refrain heard in some circles close to the Kremlin––the reported impact on the Russian economy is an indication of the country’s difficulty to adapt to the regulations of global agricultural markets that are structurally unstable and volatile. As indicated by the Chairwoman of the Russian upper house, “The TWO is first and foremost a tool, and much depends on the skill of the one handling it.” A word to the wise…

Lastly, Russia’s membership to the WTO especially emphasized the much older issues inherent to Russian agriculture and its tenuous modernization following the breakdown of the USSR. It also shows agriculture’s paramount importance for the Government, as indicated by Vladimir Putin in March 2012 when he said, “just as space, agriculture is a strategic economic sector.”

Such awareness of the strategic nature of agriculture must be welcomed, pending the implementation of genuine means to usher the revival of Russia’s agriculture. As far as the WTO is concerned, it will have a role to play if it recognizes the specific and strategic nature of agriculture, so that trade flows can be developed without jeopardizing the food security of nations.

1 Oleg Deripaska, a Russian businessman
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Paris, 25 June 2019