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The importance of Russia’s agricultural sector in the MENA geopolitics

Ballatore, Benedetto Francesco (2021): The importance of Russia’s agricultural sector in the MENA geopolitics.

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Abstract. After 1990, at the close of the communist era, Russia’s agriculture embraced an ample process of transformation. The transition from centralized agriculture to a modern, competitive and sustainable agriculture was marked by several reform failures. Nonetheless, the Eurasian country's agro-food sector and in particular the grain industry thrived remarkably after 2014 in the wake of the Western countries-imposed sanctions on Russia in response to Moscow’s annexation of Crimea. In fact, Russia's policymakers recognized Kremlin's decision to impose complete food imports ban on the EU, US and some other Western countries as an opportunity to re-launch the agro-food sector. At present, the government seizes the sector's economic potential also as a strategy for economic diversification of the country, which is too much tied up to the oil and gas industry performances. In fact, in the Putin era the establishment of integrated agricultural holdings was supported by well-balanced agricultural reforms that had an important role for the modernization of Russia’s grain industry. In this regard, the main purpose of this paper is to analyse the agro-food policies developed by the Russian government, the reasons behind the success of Russia’s grain industry in the Middle East and North Africa regions (the so-called MENA countries) and the weaknesses it still confronts, both internal and external.

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