DUBAI: UAE-Russia food trade has increased steadily in recent years due to cooperation on food security and Moscow’s efforts to diversify exports, however, a recent Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry webinar revealed that much potential still remains in both traditional categories and niche markets.
The webinar, titled Russia-UAE Food Trade in the Post-Covid-19 Era, attracted 131 participants from the UAE, Russia, Eurasia and Africa, representing businesses operating in a wide range of economic sectors. The virtual event was organised by Dubai Chamber’s representative office in Azerbaijan in cooperation with Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The event featured presentations on key trends impacting food trade in the UAE and Russia, Dubai’s efforts to boost food security, new innovations in agri-business and food manufacturing, and bilateral business opportunities that can be further explored. Dubai’s food imports from Russia reached $305 million in 2019, accounting for a large share of total bilateral trade, while Dubai’s food exports to Russia amounted to $114 million, according to government statistics revealed during the event. E-grocery, vertical farming, halal food, re-exports and food transportation were identified as high-potential areas where UAE and Russian companies can establish business tie-ups.
Addressing participants, Omar Khan, Director of International Offices at Dubai Chamber highlighted the various competitive advantages that Dubai offers Russian food exporters looking to service MENA and African markets, such as the emirate’s strategic geographic position providing access to 2 billion consumers, world-class logistics infrastructure, premier business-friendly environment and a sound financial system.
“Dubai Chamber is seeing growing interest on the part of food producers in Russia who are keen to leverage Dubai as a re-export hub, and explained that the emirate can serve as an ideal partner that can help Russian companies diversify their export markets and provide them with exceptional logistics and transport support,” said Khan.
Russian businesses can benefit by establishing their own supply chain operations in Dubai delivering products straight to consumers and boost their reach across the GCC, the Middle East and Africa, Khan explained, adding that Dubai Chamber’s representative office in Baku, Azerbaijan, is ready to provide prospective investors with the support and resources they need.
Suren Vardanyan, Vice-President, Moscow Chamber of Commerce & Industry (MCCI) noted that the wealth of bilateral business opportunities goes well beyond food trade, and extends to other areas such as innovative food growing and processing technologies.
Issa Khoory, Representative, Dubai Fruits and Vegetables Traders Group said the UAE’s world-class infrastructure has helped the country maintain a leading position in global food trade and weather Covid19 food supply challenges. He mentioned that the Fruits and Vegetables Traders Group, uniting leading food trade companies with headquarters in Dubai, is working with other stakeholders to promote sustainable domestic food production in the UAE both for the domestic consumption and exports, adding that UAE investors have a great deal of experience in contract farming, adding that this investment philosophy can be applied to Eurasian food manufacturing and processing enterprises.
Dmitriy Krasnov, Head of the Agro-export subdivision of the Russian Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation revealed that Russia has been growing its food exports in recent years, adding that the country exported more than $25 billion worth of food products in 2019. He identified dairy, poultry, meat and confectionary items as high potential product categories for the UAE market.
Sergey Vologodsky, Vice-President, Russian Export Center, noted that the Russian Export Center has support mechanisms for exporters aspiring to grow exports to the UAE and other regional markets. Much potential exists in organic and halal food exports to the UAE, and the Russian Export Center is ready to support these sectors, he pointed out.
Alexei Busev, Chairman of the Russia – UAE Committee at Moscow Chamber of Commerce & Industry, described Dubai as a prominent food trade hub, and explained that the Russian Food House in the emirate, representing 35 Russian companies, is capitalising on new trade opportunities. UAE companies should leverage resources provided by the Russian Food House and Moscow CCI to expand their business relations in Russia, he concluded.