The Russian government intends to bring down prices for fruits and vegetables by restoring rail freight traffic with Uzbekistan. To this end, Russia plans to launch Agroexpress cars into the republic.
As reported on Wednesday, June 23, the curator of this project from the Russian side - the Ministry of Economic Development - we are talking about refrigerated container trains. “The launch of the project will help to increase mutual supplies of agricultural products in the medium term,” noted the Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Maxim Reshetnikov.
A route has been determined for the transportation of agricultural products - from the Chukursay and Sergeli stations in Uzbekistan to the Selyatino station near Moscow. The route will run through Kazakhstan. The possibility of scaling the Agroexpress project in other directions is not excluded.
In pilot mode on rails
By the end of 2020, the Russian market has become the main one for the export of fruits and vegetables from Uzbekistan. The trade turnover between Russia and Uzbekistan increased last year compared to 2019 by 15,7% - to $ 5,8 billion.Of the total trade turnover, the share of vegetables and fruits sold to Russia amounted to $ 255 million, or about a quarter of all exports of vegetables and fruits from the republic ...
In the first quarter of 2021, according to the Russian Export Center, the trade between the two countries amounted to about $ 1 billion. There is no data on fruits and vegetables yet.
The Ministry of Economic Development calls Agroexpress a pilot project. If it proves its effectiveness, fruit and vegetable routes will work in other directions as well. For example, it will be extended to Tajikistan and other Central Asian republics.
Containers will not go empty from Russia in the opposite direction. Uzbekistan will receive meat and flour-grinding products, follows from a memorandum published on the official website of the Ministry of Economic Development.
The Ministry of Economic Development and Trade explained to Gazeta.Ru that the launch date for Agroexpress and the product range are currently being discussed. Understanding of these parameters can be formed not earlier than September. The Russian Export Center explained that "the freight base between the countries is still being formed, there is no specifics yet."
At the same time, the Uzbek media reported that the first "Agroexpress", consisting of 40 cars, is planned to be launched this fall.
“The first deliveries are unlikely to be large. First, you will need to find wholesale buyers. That is why it is still impossible to name the exact date of the first "Agroexpress". Most likely, he will be lucky that what is not produced in large quantities in Russia, first of all, melons ”, - predicts Alexander Borisov, Chairman of the RF CCI Council for the Development of Consumer Market, President of the Moscow International Business Association.
Taras Tsukarev, head of the EDB Center for Integration Studies, estimates the unrealized export potential of the Uzbek Republic in relation to Russia at $ 560 million. “For example, the export of fruits to Russia could potentially grow 4 times, vegetables - 3 times,” says Tsukarev.
Wait for the express until autumn
If we establish uninterrupted container transportation of agricultural products, it will be beneficial for both countries, but it will not be possible to bring down prices due to imports this summer, says Evgenia Serova, director of the Institute of Agricultural Research at the Higher School of Economics. “They will probably not be in time with the supply of vegetables. But there is still time to organize the delivery of melons, grapes, dried fruits, ”says Serova.
The director of the National Fruit and Vegetable Union Mikhail Glushkov is skeptical about the possibility of promptly launching a new logistics chain between the two countries. “The volume of supplies of products from Uzbekistan is different every year and directly depends on the available stocks of fruits and vegetables in Russia, as well as the volume of domestic production in the previous year,” he explains.
Currently, all deliveries of fruits and vegetables are carried out by road, the main disadvantage of which is the high cost of transportation.