Media Release

Australian Agriculture Remains Strong Despite Russian Bans

Joint Media Release

The Hon. Andrew Robb AO MP
Minister for Trade and Investment

The Hon. Barnaby Joyce MP
Minister for Agriculture


8 August 2014

The Australian Government is disappointed by the Russian Government’s decision to ban imports of agricultural products, raw materials and foodstuffs from countries that have imposed sanctions in relation to Russia in response to events in Ukraine.

Rather than listening to international concern about its actions in Ukraine, Russia has chosen to apply import restrictions that will do nothing to ease the violence in Ukraine.

The Australian Government is currently working to assess the full impact of the Russian Federation ban on imports of certain agricultural products, raw materials and foodstuffs from Australia. The ban is effective for one year.

Our priority is to ensure the ongoing success of Australian agricultural producers and exporters. The government is already working to ensure Australian producers have access to a wide range of alternative markets.

Australia stands with others in the international community in taking direct and deliberate action regarding sanctions in relation to Russia’s deplorable conduct in Ukraine, including Russia’s purported annexation of Crimea.

The loss of any market is always of concern, and we will work closely with affected producers to minimise the impact on their business.

To put Russia’s ban in perspective, Australia’s total trade with Russia represents just 0.4 per cent of our trade overall and one per cent if you only look at agricultural exports. Australian agricultural exports to Russia in 2013 were valued at about A$405 million but included some commodities now already banned including beef (A$159 million); milk and dairy products (A$76 million); live animals, excluding seafood, (A$55 million); and fruit and nuts (A$9 million).

Russia ranks number 28 on Australia’s list of export destinations so we are certainly not heavily reliant on it as a trading partner.  The excellent reputation of our agriculture sees it in strong demand in many other major markets including China, Japan and Korea.

Our immediate focus is to manage those exports that are currently at sea or in transit to Russian markets and to assist exporters in redirecting them, wherever possible, to alternative destinations.

The strong reputation of our agricultural producers and the commodities they produce means there is always demand in many other markets for Australia’s quality products.

Free trade agreements with major markets such as Japan and Korea and, we hope soon to be China, open up more opportunities and help further diversify our trade. 

We are concerned that Russia’s ban may not comply with World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.  We are considering all options in relation to these new restrictions, and will be consulting with other affected trading partners.

The people who will be affected most by Russia’s actions are ordinary Russian people. There are no winners in what Russia has done.

The Department of Agriculture is in close contact with exporters and producers to ensure information flows as quickly as possible. Updates can be found on the department’s website at www.agriculture.gov.au and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade at www.dfat.gov.au