Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 201

Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said earlier this week that Russia has approached the United States about the possible purchase of significant amounts of foodstuffs. Glickman said little either about the exact size of the Russian request or the form that any U.S. food aid package might take. He did indicate, however, that while the United States has some interest in reaching a food deal with Moscow, negotiations remain at an early stage and a number of details must still be worked out. A U.S. negotiating team is set to leave for Moscow for further talks on the subject. According to a Russian daily, those talks are to be centered on deliveries of U.S. grain, meat, butter, dry milk and other foodstuffs. Russia would receive the U.S. food on favorable terms, the newspaper added. A U.S. trade official said last week that Washington is looking to coordinate its efforts with the European Union on food aid for Russia (Reuters, October 28; Izvestia, October 29).

A U.S.-Russian food deal at this time would be propitious for both sides. U.S. farmers are facing uncommonly low commodity prices and are said to be pleased with the prospect of a deal with Moscow. For Russia, meanwhile, the stakes are higher. The country faces one of its worst harvests in years, and the new government under Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov is seeking to avoid food shortages this coming winter. As a result, Moscow has been negotiating a series of barter deals with other trading partners that are designed to increase food shipments into Russia (Reuters, October 28).