Exactly five years ago Russia placed a boycott on all fruit and vegetables from the EU, the United States, Australia, Canada and Norway, as well as other products. The import stop was supposed to last for one year starting Thursday August 7 2014 for, but has now be extended 4 times. This week we ask Belgian and Dutch exporters about the effects. Today we spoke to Arjan Zoutewelle, general director of Zoutewelle Import/Export from Ridderkerk.
"Russia at its prime was the third export customer for Dutch product - after Germany and the UK - and of huge importance for the re-export for Dutch exporters, certainly for Zoutewelle," says Arjan. When asked whether the boycott caused him to accelerate his search for new markets, the exporter replies: "Yes, the focus of the smaller Russia commercial team changed and the other teams were extended where possible."
Zoutewelle still maintains contacts with his Russian customers and foresees them of imported fruit from overseas. "But the opportunities are limited. Europe has become of less importance for the better Russian customers," according to Arjan. Does he hope the boycott will be lifted? "If hoping means not becoming hugely active on other markets in the meantime, no... The boycott won't last forever, but you can't run a business on hope."