Russia carries on expanding its trade contacts with the countries of Southeast Asia in all possible directions. An important step towards this goal was the beginning of Russia’s livestock products sales on the market of the Republic of Singapore. Singapore is an extremely important partner for Moscow among the ASEAN states. The trade turnover between the two states last year has reached 2 billion dollars. Agriculture is not the most important area of bilateral cooperation between Russia and Singapore, but it’s an important one. In this area there’s been a number of important projects brought to life, but those launched by the Singaporean company Olam International, one of the world’s major agro-traders still hold primacy, while the company is investing considerable sums in the Russian agro-industry. For example, in August 2016, this company took part in the construction of the largest grain elevator in the Penza region, designed for to transport 100,000 tons of grain simultaneously, with the project’s worth reaching 1.6 billion rubles. In September 2016, the company decided to invest 700 million rubles in the modernization of the Azov grain terminal. The corresponding agreement was signed in Sochi, during the International Investment Forum. It’s also been noted that Olam International in the near future is planing to make a large investment in the dairy industry in Russia’s Rostov region.
For a while, Singapore has been showing interest in Russian livestock products (mainly pork and poultry), while Russia eyed various areas of the Singaporean market (such as poultry and seafood). However, there’s one thing that a country needs to start buying this or that type of products, and those the guarantees that it is of decent quality and can be used safely.
In November 2015, the sixth meeting of the Russian-Singapore High Level Commission was held, chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov and Deputy Prime Minister of the Singapore Government Tharman Shanmugaratnam. During the discussion held on such topics as the development of trade between the two countries, Singapore promised to launch a check of the Russian enterprises that are wishing to start exporting their meat products. In total, five largest Russian companies decided to compete for the right to supply Singapore with its products.
Last March a delegation of the Singapore Agency for the Control of Plant and Animal Production spent more than a week in Russia. Its main goal was to ensure the reliability of the safety control procedures that are used to certify various types of meat. Within this short period of time Singaporean experts have manged to visit Penza, Vladimir, Kaliningrad, Belgorod and Bryansk, while paying a special visit to the Federal Center for the Protection of Animal Health established by Rosselkhoznadzor. In there foreign guests were able to get acquainted with Russia’s latest scientific advancements in the field of biological safety and timely disease detection procedures that have already been introduced on various farms across the country. The delegation has also received a detailed virus activity report, paying particular attention to the situation with the highly pathogenic avian influenza (also known as bird flu). This virus disease, carried by migratory birds, is characterized by rapid spread, high lethality and can produce a massive impact on the level of poultry production. Moreover, in recent years, one of the types of the virus has become dangerous for humans. It should be recalled that in early March 2017 because of this disease, the Singapore authorities imposed a ban on the supply of poultry products from several US states. However, the data provided by Moscow about the situation with bird flu on the territory of the Russian Federation left the Singaporean delegation satisfied.
As a result of the inspection, Russia’s meat products were recognized as those of high quality that are being produced with a particular attention to the anti-viruses safety monitoring. Russia received the right to supply poultry meat, pork and ready-made meat products to Singapore. At the same time, the Singaporean side stated that there is no need for a total check of all Russian meat-processing enterprises, and it is ready to accept Russian products acting on the guarantees provided by Rosselkhoznadzor.
At the same time, when inspectors from Singapore visited Russia, Singapore was receiving an expert group from Russia, since Rosselkhoznadzor had also sent its experts to check local livestock enterprises that were planning to export their products to Russia. Also, Russian experts evaluated the work of the Singapore Border Veterinary Service, responsible for checking the quality of export agricultural and seafood products. They were satisfied with the verification organization and the information provided. Probably, soon the Russian market will become open for a number of Singaporean meat and fish products.
As it’s been already mentioned, Singapore is extremely important for Russia, since it is an influential member of ASEAN. By building economic relations with it, the Russian Federation hopes to bring its products to the table of a number of other countries of the association. Agriculture – not the most profitable industry, but it’s an important one. Singapore is a small and densely populated island nation that is in constant need of high-quality food products being supplied to it, in exchange for its capability to sell its fish products. In addition, as we have seen, Singapore is very picky about its suppliers, and since Russia has become one of them, it is likely that the cooperation will be long and stable. Thus, the expansion of cooperation in the field of agriculture has become a new strong link between the economies of the two countries. Together with cooperation in other spheres of the economy, it has already led to a lot of success: as is known, in 2017 Singapore intends to conclude an agreement on free trade with the EAEC.
Dmitry Bokarev, expert politologist, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”