Tensions against Russia, but Moscow hits back at Brazil’s agriculture

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MOSCOW, Russia – Due to the high amount of agrochemicals in soybeans from Brazil, the Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance Service of Russia (Rosselkhoznadzor) could temporarily ban imports, the agency reported.

This comes as the new Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, in his pre-election campaign often went on to attack Russia in the same fashion that plagued the previous US elections contested between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

In this regard, Rosselkhoznadzor informed the Agricultural Defense Secretariat (SDA) of the Brazilian Ministry of Agriculture on the need to take urgent measures to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Technical Regulation of the Customs Union “On cereal safety”. This concerns the pesticide content of products supplied to Russia.

“Rosselkhoznadzor informs on the possible application of temporary limitations on the importation of soybeans from Brazil if the Brazilian side does not take measures to correct this situation soon,” said the organization.

According to the statement, “this decision is due to the high degree of toxicity of glyphosate [herbicide] to humans and animals, as attested by several scientific studies.”

Multiple cases of detection of large quantities of this herbicide in the legume have already been declared, the organization said.

Brazil was informed of the need to take urgent action on the matter to ensure compliance with the rules of the Customs Union technical regulation.

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This comes as last year the Agriculture, Livestock and Supply Minister Blairo Maggi said that the technical areas of the agricultural sector in Brazil and Russia have finally adjusted their demands for the reestablishment of exports of Brazilian pork to the Russian market.

According to the Ministry’s communication service, the understanding between the two sides was reached during the last BRICS meeting in South Africa at the end of July, 2018. At the time, the Russian Minister of Agriculture, Dmitri Patrushev, said that there was no political impediment to the return of Brazilian pigs to the Russian market, only technical issues that had already been resolved.

Speaking to the press, Maggi pointed out that, as part of the multiple trade requirements between the two countries, the first wheat ship exported by Russia arrived in Brazil and noted that the fish market has also been opened, mainly for cod.

According to economist Helio Sirimarco, vice-president of the National Agricultural Society (SNA), the commercial exchange between Brazilians and Russians in the agricultural sector has everything to become even more interesting after these new understandings between the two parties.

“We’re probably going to have more business in this segment there,” he said in an interview last year. “Brazil is an importer of wheat, it continues to be, and Russia becomes a new supplier. Usually, we import from Argentina, eventually from the United States. Now, Russia entering the market is interesting because it expands the number of suppliers and , suddenly makes even more attractive pricing conditions possible.”

In addition to the current exchange, the vice president of SNA does not rule out an expansion of the basket of products traded between Brazil and Russia in the sector. According to him, everything will depend on the need and availability of each country.

“It can happen, for example, as rice does. Rice, because it has very large varieties of rice, Brazil exports rice and imports rice,” he explained. “The key is that relations flow normally, without any non-commercial constraints.”

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