WASHINGTON — Russian diners won’t be able to find creamy Dutch cheeses or juicy Polish apples in the grocery store or cook up chicken from the United States — the result of a Russian ban on most food imports from the West.
Some products, including baby food and wine, were left out of the ban.
Although the United States, Canada and the European Union (EU) together will take more than a $17.5 billion hit from the one-year ban, Russian consumers may feel it more than Western farmers.
Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, shrugged off the import ban’s impact as negligible, in contrast to Western sanctions on Russian individuals, businesses and economic sectors that he said have sent investors fleeing Russia and made a weak Russian economy weaker.
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There’s a “cruel irony” in Russia’s import ban, said David Cohen, the Treasury Department undersecretary in charge of economic sanctions. “What the Russians have done here is limit the Russian people’s access to food,” Cohen said.
What to know about the Russian ban, which is in retaliation for sanctions the U.S. and European nations have imposed because of its actions in Ukraine:
Q: What’s at stake?
A: The United States exported about $1.2 billion in food and agricultural goods to Russia last year, less than 1 percent of total U.S. agriculture exports. The EU exported about $15.8 billion to Russia, about 10 percent of its total agriculture exports. Canada’s agricultural exports to Russia amounted to $563 million Canadian dollars ($515 million) in 2012, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada. Washington state is unlikely to be hurt. Russia is No. 19 as a trading partner for state food and agricultural exports, the Washington State Department of Agriculture said. Last year, the state’s $104 million in such exports to Russia amounted to less than 1 percent of the $8.8 billion total Washington-origin agricultural products the state exported.
Q: Who is hit hardest?
A: In the EU, Poland, France, the Netherlands and Germany will feel much of the loss. The Netherlands sends $2 billion worth of agricultural products to Russia annually, Germany $2.1 billion, France $1.6 billion and Poland $2.1 billion. Poland is Europe’s largest producer of apples; more than half of its production goes to Russia.
The ban also dealt a blow to Norway’s fishing industry. The Norwegian Seafood Federation said Russia was its biggest single market last year.
The impact is less in the United States. The largest U.S. export to Russia is poultry, mainly chicken, followed by tree nuts such as almonds, and also soybeans. In a statement, the National Chicken Council and the USA Poultry and Egg Export Council said Russia buys a little more than $300 million in U.S. chicken annually, about 7 percent of the industry’s total exports. The chicken groups said they did not expect the ban to have a major impact on the industry.
Material from The Seattle Times archive is included in this report.