ANALYSIS – Russia faces being taken to the World Trade Organisation because what Germany and the EU consider punitive quotas on the import of combine harvesters, writes Chris Harris.
Speaking at a seminar at Agritechnica in Hannover, in Germany, Friedrich Wacker, the head of the directorate for International Cooperation and World Affairs at the German Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection said that not only trade with Russia but Russian and the region’s agriculture is being affected by the imposition of quotas on the import of combine harvesters.
This year the Customs Union for Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan has imposed a quota of 750 combine harvesters for the entire region, with about 300 destines for Kazakhstan, 50 for Belarus and the remainder for Russia.
Next year that quota has been reduced to just 500.
Now the Germany government backed by the German Agricultural Machinery Association, VDMA, has called on the EU for support and to take Russia to the World Trade Organisation.
The move, which is also being backed by the USA and Canada, could see Russia being taken through the disputes procedures at the WTO and if the situation is not resolved the countries could face punitive sanctions.
“The farmers need to be free to choose the technology they need,” Mr Wacker told the Agritechnica seminar which was looking at access to the emerging markets of Russia and Kazakhstan.
However, he said the tariffs from the Customs Union on the imports of harvesters from third countries are “protective barriers”.
“Quotas could lead to shortages,” Mr Wacker said.
“The ministry has raised the matter in bilateral talks with Russia and Kazakhstan and it has been raised at the World Trade Organisation.
“It has been raised by the US and Canada.
“We will not relent in our efforts here.”
He added that there is a need for cooperation and transparency and the promotion of fair trade.
Dr Hermann Garbers, chairman of the VDMA for agricultural machinery said that the farmers in Russia and Kazakhstan are anxious to obtain new and advanced technology, but their potential is being hampered by bureaucracy in both the import and trade mechanisms and in the potential to receive financial assistance.
He added that the industry in Germany wants to see deregulation and the elimination of import quotas and an equal treatment for foreign brands.
Dirk Stratmann from the Agribusiness Alliance Committee on Easter European Economic Relations, OA, said that there should be free aces to technology and financing is the key.
“It is a question of partnerships and transparency and there is a need for a level playing field to move forward,” he said.