In January and February, poultry imports increased 160% on 1999 levels, and Deputy Prime Minister and agriculture minister Alexei Gordeyev has now spoken out in favour of limiting chicken imports by a tariff quota. The move, he argues, is necessary because attempts to limit imports with custom duties have failed.

Gordeyev explained: “The necessity for this is tied to the fact that Russia’s every attempt to protect its own market with the help of duties, which, by the way, are 10-15 times lower than those in the countries of the EU, produce no results. Exporting countries constantly implement protectionist policies so that this commodity actively falls on the Russian market, not infrequently at the cost of lowered prices.”

This is having a detrimental effect on Russian producers, who cannot compete with lower-priced imports. Furthermore, Gordeyev added that the imported poultry is generally of a lower standard than that produced within Russia. The new policy may have the effect however of driving smaller poultry importers out of business.

Critics have also pointed out that while domestic production is increasing by 12% a year, it is still not sufficient to meet domestic demand when the quota system is in place. Gordeyev insists however that if imports are limited, domestic production could grow to become “equal to that of the lowered import” within four or five months.