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Russia Struggles to Replace Foods After Import Ban

Russia's Import Substitution Plan Runs into Quality, Economic Problems
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Russia's plan to replace imports runs into quality, economic problems

Russia Struggles to Replace Food, Other Imports
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Russia is working to replace foreign products with its own goods. The move is aimed at restricting imports from Western countries.

The policy resulted from Western nations putting trade limits on Russia because of its actions in Ukraine. The Russian government answered the sanctions by banning Western food. The ban is expected to help some countries, like China. But finding replacement products for Russian technology is proving difficult.

Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev wants Russian industry to overtake foreign imports. But that is not easy to do while the country is in an economic recession.

Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich says it will take time before Russia can make all of its own products.

He says the policy was only changed recently, and it is too early to talk about major results.

The lower quality of some Russian products is an issue. Mr. Medvedev stopped a plan that would have banned government payments for foreign-made medical devices. He was worried that health care would suffer.

Shvabe, a Russian company, has a British partner for developing technology. Ivan Ozhgihin is the company’s director.

He says “We came to know them 15 years ago. We made a joint local product. There was no talk or sanctions or important replacement then.”

Russian officials say the ban on Western food is slowly helping the country learn to survive without foreign imports.

Alexander Sirotkin is with Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture.

He says he is sure that the country will soon change from working to replace imports to quickly developing the agriculture sector and its exports.

But the Russian economy is struggling. And the ban on Western food imports means Russians are eating food of lower quality.

Russia did not ban the import of food from China, however. Chinese officials say they are seeking to expand their sales in Russia.

Sun Yuejing is the director-general of the Department of Commerce in Shanxi province.

He says the ban is a good opportunity for both countries. He notes that they recently signed an agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union.

VOA Correspondent Daniel Schearf reported this story from Moscow. Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

overtake – v. to catch up with and pass something

sanctions – n. an action that is taken or an order that is given to force a country to obey international laws by limiting or stopping trade with that country, by not allowing economic aid for that country (usually plural)

sector – n. an area of an economy; a part of an economy that includes certain kinds of jobs

opportunity – n. a series of events that make it possible to do something

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