If Ronald Reagan were here today, we can imagine he might say something like “Mr. Putin, take down these import sanctions” and something might happen.
Unfortunately, such a scenario doesn’t exist for the U.S. and other Western countries in 2014, who face a one-year ban on key agricultural exports to Russia.
The sanctions apply to fruits, vegetables, nuts and other agricultural products from the U.S., the European Union, Canada, Norway and Australia, nations that have trade penalties against Russia for its role in the Ukraine conflict.
For U.S. and European exporters of fresh produce, the trade interruption won’t be welcomed.
Russia is a significant market for U.S. fruit and nuts, ranking in 2013 as the third-largest export market for pears, the 11th biggest market for almonds and the 13th biggest export market for apples.
That year, Russia imported $138 million in almonds, $31 million in pistachios, $13 million in fresh apples, $12 million in pears and $2.7 million in grapes from the U.S.
U.S. growers often pay the price for sanctions that have nothing to do with them. This is another case.
With a very large crop of apples and a substantial crop of pears in the Northwest, these trade restrictions will represent a challenge to marketers.
We are confident they will rise to meet the challenge. We hope Russia will reconsider its hasty action, which will surely penalize its consumers.
And for the U.S., Europe and others, a World Trade Organization challenge of Russia’s actions should be explored immediately — even though prospects of a quick resolution seem unlikely.
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