Budapest, February 1 (MTI) – Hungary has explored new markets and successfully counterbalanced the Russian embargo on Hungarian agricultural and food products introduced 18 months ago, the ministry commissioner in charge of measures linked to the Russian embargo said on Monday.
The first efforts to find new markets were made as early as in September 2014, just a month after the embargo was introduced, Gyula Budai said. Relations have been broadened with the Western Balkans, Southeast Asia, the Far East and China, he added.
There is significant demand for Hungarian pork, especially mangalica products, in South Korea, Japan and Singapore. Interest in Hungarian agricultural products has been expressed in Vietnam, where the Hungarian Trading House opened new offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and also in Cambodia, where a new office was opened in Phnom Penh. It helps that many representatives of the local elite studied in Hungary in the past, he added. The National Trading House will present a whole range of Hungarian products at an upcoming event in Tokyo in the near future.
The past 18 months have demonstrated the importance of the Russian market to Europe, where the EU’s embargo policy has caused large-scale damage to producers, Budai said. Hungarian agricultural and food exporters suffered 80-million-euros-worth of losses as a result of the embargo in 2014 and the amount doubled in 2015, he added.
If the Minsk agreement to settle the situation in eastern Ukraine is respected by the parties involved, then the Russian embargo on EU goods will be lifted by the end of the year, possibly in the first half, he said.
Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance last checked Hungarian meat producers in April 2015. Based on this assessment, five Hungarian companies were allowed to continue exports to Russia and temporary restrictions were lifted on three companies. The temporary restrictions were maintained in the case of five Hungarian companies and restrictions were introduced on two companies, Budai said.
He said that some Hungarian seed producers and canned food producers have even benefited from the embargo. Once the embargo is lifted, Hungary will need to increase its pig stocks in order to be able to meet Russian demand.