Russian demand for local products is on the rise due to the European and US economic boycott. The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon (CCIABML) received more than 300 import requests to export agricultural products to Russia.
Russia is searching for alternative importing markets because of Europe’s embargo on industrial and agricultural exports.
Lebanon is able to step in with opportunities to export potatoes, onions, tomatoes, citrus fruits, apples, grapes and peaches, as well as industrial products such as agro-food, and paper and plastic products.
Ibrahim Tarchichi, Chairman of the Association of Bekaa Farmers, said: “We used to export small amounts of fruits and vegetables to Russia, but we can increase the amounts.”
Lebanese farmers may export their products before the Russian harvest, from 15 April to June, and from September to December.
Fady Gemayel, Chairman of the Association of Lebanese Industrialists (ALI), said: “There are opportunities for farmers and industrialists to penetrate the Russian market.”
Tarchichi said: “Exporting to Russia is feasible, because the transportation cost is affordable.” The cost of a 40-foot refrigerated container by sea costs $2,500 and may be delivered within one week.
“We are looking for a long term relationship in the Russian market. Our products comply with international and European standards, so we are able to export to this market,” said Gemayel.
Local exports to Russia did not exceed $7 million last year including agricultural products, as well as agro-food, papers and plastic. Russia’s imports reach $500 billion annually. “We can meet part of the demand through specialization and increasing our productivity,” said Gemayel.
He said that although our operational costs are high, our industrialists can cater to the middle and upper classes, because their products are high end and have added value.
The CCIABML will establish an office to facilitate communication between the ministries and business entrepreneurs to aid them in exporting to Russia.
Liban Pack is also working with the industrialists to enhance labeling using Russian.