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Increase in Moldovan fruit and veg exports to Russia put into question

Last week, during a meeting that Moldovan President Igor Dodon held in Sochi with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, there was talk of a "notable growth" in 2017 in the exports of fruit, vegetables and wines to the Russian market compared to the same period of the previous year. Dodon also mentioned some figures: exports of table grapes would have risen by about 20 times, and wine by 50%. However, Igor Dodon did not specify whether this referred to the volume or value of those exports, which raised some doubts.

The alleged export leap on the Russian market has been put into question primarily by the National Food Safety Agency (ANSA) and the National Vine and Wine Office, which report slight increases, but not such sharp ones.

"Some data presented by Igor Dodon at Sochi are speculation, blunders or figures out of context," stated Gheorghe Gaberi, the head of ANSA. Some of these data refer to quantities, not their value in dollars.

"It has been widely published that the export volume of table grapes has increased 19 times, but that's not the case. We have shipped 19 thousand [tonnes]. It was probably a mistake. Other figures are presented in a misleading manner, despite them being small. For instance, if we didn't ship any blueberries and now we do 4.6 tonnes, should you say exports have increased by a thousand times or more?"

A simple analysis of the data provided by the Federal Statistical Office (Rosstat) shows that in the case of the import of fruit and vegetables from the Republic of Moldova the figures are quite different to those reported. Thus, Moldovan producers delivered 11,400 tonnes of grapes between January and July 2017 (latest Rosstat data), which is 9.8% more than in the same period last year. Also, the increase in the volume of apples, pears and quinces exported to the Russian market is 17%, with the quantity being 93,700 tonnes. Regarding imports of apricots, sweet cherries, sour cherries and peaches, Rosstat informs that Russia imported from Moldova 14,100 tonnes, which 4.9% more than in January-July 2016.

ANSA data show an increase of about one-third in the volume of apple exports to Russia by 10 October (from 84,580 tonnes in the first ten months of last year to 114,414 tonnes between 1 January and 10 October 2017), and not by three times as Igor Dodon stated.

Gheorghe Gaberi assures that, based on recent financial calculations, most of the revenue that Moldova earns in this sector is made from the walnut kernels sold in the European Union, with about 100-110 million dollars annually. In the case of apples, the quantities are high and the prices low. That's why, according to the head of ANSA, it is not right to manipulate the figures and generate political disputes, especially as exports are being made in order to bring as much money as possible into the country.

In Sochi, Igor Dodon highlighted his merits, saying that since he became president, a strategic partnership had been resumed with Moscow. The president thanked the Russian authorities for accepting to examine the lists of producers he proposed to allow to make shipments. These lists, which were drafted and approved in a non-transparent manner, were criticised by some experts.

According to data from the National Bureau of Statistics for the first eight months of the year, if we look at the value of exports, Moldova's shipments to Romania are twice as valuable as those going to Russia. If there were no embargoes, maybe Russia could be at the level of Romania, but economist Alexandr Muravschi concludes that the growth rates reported in the EU and Romania are higher than those of the CIS and Russia.

Sources: and

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