Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan FTA moves

25-years after the world stood on the brink of nuclear war, Federated Farmers is hailing moves to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

"If, 25-years ago you would have told me we would be negotiating an FTA with Russia, I would probably have laughed. It just highlights how the world has changed for the better," says Don Nicolson, Federated Farmers President.

"Free trade is a civilising force for good and this news caps off a stellar year for the Hon Tim Groser on the trade front.

"Since 1991, the Russian economy has undergone a metamorphosis. After the dissolution of the old Soviet Union, Russia was written off by many so-called experts, but it has faced its problems and emerged as a strong growing economy. As the 12th largest on earth it is backed by inordinate minerals wealth.

"It can easily be forgotten that Russia is also a Pacific country. Belarus, meanwhile, has a diversified industrial economy while Kazakhstan, is the largest economy in Central Asia, based on oil and gas as well as minerals.

"These are all compelling reasons to start FTA negotiations. We already have an agricultural beachhead by way of sheepmeat, beef offal and dairy exports worth around $150 million of the annual $187 million worth of exports we send to Russia.

"On top of Friday's news that Fonterra has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with India's IFFCO and Global Dairy Health, it shows how the agricultural sector is alert to opportunity.

"Being New Zealand's most important industry generating $26 billion in exports each year, the entire agricultural sector I think will join me, in welcoming these FTA negotiations," Mr Nicolson concluded.


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