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Russia expects rise in Iran food imports

Russia says Iran has promised to replace Turkey as a key supplier of food items.

Russia said on Thursday that it has received assurances from Iran that it will replace Turkey in imports of food items.

"Iran solemnly promises: we’ll replace the whole of Turkey in the deliveries of perishable goods to Russia," said Russia’s Federal Customs Service Chief Andrei Belyaninov.

Belyaninov suggested that this will be part of a new arrangement between Iran and Russia that would in a later stage entail the opening of a green corridor between the two countries.   

"We’ll go there [to Iran] in May to sign a green corridor deal," ITAR-TASS news agency quoted the official as saying. 

The customs green corridor simplifies customs procedures and helps expedite a whole number of formalities for customs clearance and document formalization, the report added.

Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, who is co-chairman of the Russian-Iranian inter-governmental commission for trade and economic cooperation, said earlier that Iran could supply fruits and vegetables worth no less than $1 billion to Russia annually.

Russia intends to buy pistachio nuts, dates and grapes. Russian trade chains have said they are ready to increase purchases of foodstuffs from Iran. Moreover, in some cases, they can replace the Turkish foodstuffs earlier banned by Russia in light of the deteriorating political relations between the two countries.

According to Russia’s Agriculture Ministry, Russia’s exports to Iran accounted for 3.1% of its total agrarian exports in 2015 and in absolute figures these supplies totaled $484.4 million (based on the data of Russia’s Federal Customs Service). In terms of value, grain crops were Russia’s basic agricultural commodities supplied to Iran, including wheat and barley (91%), and also sunflower oil (5.1%).

In turn, supplies from Iran totaled 0.7% of Russia’s total agricultural and food imports in 2015 or $194.3 million (based on the data of the Federal Customs Service of Russia). Russia basically imported vegetables, fruits, dried fruit and nuts from Iran.

Officials in Tehran said in mid-January that some 500 truckloads of food items and different kinds of fruits had been exported to Russia within a week.  

Masoud Khansari, the president of Tehran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, was quoted by the media as saying that the exports to Russia were made through Azerbaijan.

Khansari further said that the required authorizations for exports of dairy and livestock products to Russia have also been issued. 

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