14 Sep 2010 13:31

Russia plans to cut potato import duty to zero

MOSCOW. Sept 14 (Interfax) - Russia plans to cut the import duty on potatoes to 0%, the head of the Economic Development Ministry's department for developing competition, Alexander Pirozhenko, said in Moscow on Tuesday at a forum on national agricultural and food markets, part of the World Food Moscow-2010 exhibition.

"The question of reducing the export duty on potatoes, right down to zero, is being discussed," Pirozhenko said, recalling that the import duty is currently 5% for seed potato and 15% for food potato.

The import duty would be reduced due to the poor potato harvest this year.

The decision will be made despite certain issues associated with the Customs Union. "I hope that the talks in the framework of the Customs Union are a success," he said.

The task of holding talks with two potential potato suppliers, Belarus and Poland, was decided on at a recent meeting chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov.

Potato prices in Russia have risen 2.5% in the most recent week, Pirozhenko said, citing data from Rosstat. Prices rose 14.1% in Chechnya, 12.6% in Smolensk region and 11.2% in Kabardino-Balkaria and Astrakhan region. Prices have risen 30.6% in Astrakhan region over the past four weeks, he said.

However, potato prices have fell in a number of regions, including a 10% drop in the latest week in Khakasia (down 35% in four weeks) and 11% in Irkutsk region (20%).

Russia will have to import at least 4 million tonnes of potatoes this year, according to Agricultural Ministry estimates.