MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Saudi Arabia might become an interesting and promising export market for Russian grain, freshwater and other foodstuffs, and the talks on export of Russian barley are already underway, Andrey Tarasov, the chairman of the board of the Association for Cooperation with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (RUSA), told Sputnik in an interview
Saudi Arabia’s hot climate, lack of croplands and freshwater made it give up wet crops and cooperate with other countries which are better suited for certain types of agricultural activities, according to Tarasov.
“Russia has some of the largest croplands in the world, which can also be expanded and agricultural firms that are ready to cooperate with Saudi agricultural workers,”
Saudi Arabia stopped growing barley on its own territory in 2003 and is planning to drastically reduce the production of other feeding crops in the next few years. According to Tarasov, Russia has the necessary experience and resources in this field, and the association is already discussing potential deliveries of Russian barley to Saudi Arabia:
“We want to bring Russian companies back to the Saudi market. They left the country’s market earlier due to the fault of international traders.”
Saudi Arabia has also confirmed its interest in increasing grains export from Russia and joint production of animal compound feed in both countries.
Russia has a lot to offer to Saudi Arabia in terms of freshwater deliveries as well, Tarasov said.
“This [desalination of sea water] is an expensive process, which over time is beginning to require more financial resources and more oil, which is used as fuel in the desalination process. The necessity of interaction in this field is obvious, as Russia has the largest freshwater resources in the world,”
the RUSA head said.
Russia, in turn, might import dairy products from Saudi Arabia, which is developing the production of high quality milk. The association is looking for Russian companies interested in becoming importers:
“After the Russian government introduced special economic measures regarding a number of European countries that traditionally delivered milk and dairy products [to Russia], a vacancy opened up at the domestic market and Russian and Belarusian products began to fill it up. However, milk industry has a long pay-back period and it is quite difficult to grow production capacities fast.”
Saudi Arabia is interested in boosting its import of Russian wood, Tarasov said, adding RUSA is already working on a corresponding project:
“At the moment, the association is working on the project aimed to increase Russian export of wood to Saudi Arabia with potential involvement of Saudi investments in wood-processing sector of the Russian economy … The talks with Russian companies, large players in this market, on the cooperation with Saudi exporters of processed wood to Saudi Arabia are underway.”
According to the RUSA head, the association and Saudi holding Wafrat al Tawasul signed a memorandum of understanding which suggests a possibility of Russia exporting processed wood to Saudi Arabia:
“Several agreements on the delivery of products of Demidovo Plywood company and Syktyvkar pulp and paper production center to Saudi Arabia have been reached.”
In 2015, Saudi Arabia bought more than $3.8 billion worth of woodworking products, but Russia’s share of the market was only 1.3 percent. China was responsible for 16.8 percent of the exports, and the United States covered 6.5 percent.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud visited Moscow last week and held talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Following the talks, the two sides signed 14 documents. The Russian-Saudi investment forum was held before the meeting of the two state leaders.