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Russia’s agricultural imports during the 2000s have grown substantially, from €7.4 billion in 2000 to €19.2 billion in 2007 (Figure 1). The import growth has made Russia the second largest agricultural importer among emerging market economies, after China. The main imports are meat, highly processed products, fruits and vegetables (Figure 2). Russia’s agricultural exports have also grown during this time, though from a much lower base in value terms (and with most of the increase coming just from grain).
Europe has benefited strongly from the rise in Russia’s agricultural imports. During this decade, Russia has been the EU’s second largest foreign market for agricultural products (after the US), in 2007 taking 10 per cent of its agricultural exports worth €7.7 billion (Eurostat). The EU countries together have also been the main foreign supplier of agricultural products to Russia, in most years providing more than a third of total imports, followed by Brazil and the US (World Trade Atlas).
Why have Russia’s agricultural imports grown so much? Also, what is the outlook for the country’s agricultural imports for the next 4–5 years, especially given that the country is suffering from its own financial and economic crisis that began in autumn 2008? Before answering these questions, though, we will examine whether Russian agricultural imports during the 2000s increased in volume as well as value terms.