Rabat—On the sidelines of the escalation related to the current juncture in Crimea, Russia announced last Wednesday a “full embargo” on most food-products imports from EU countries. Morocco looks set to benefit from the sanctions if Russia lingers in its decision.
You may think that many “Moroccan farmers” started rubbing their hands together, as an expression of glad anticipation of the deals they are about to strike, as soon as the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced that “Russia is introducing a full embargo on import of beef, pork, fruit and vegetable produce, poultry, fish, cheese, milk and dairy products from the European Union, United States, Australia, Canada and Norway.”
Well, you may be right, but “not quite so” as by the time the sanctions were made public, the “Moroccan farmers” already finished rubbing their hands and were even ready for an “attack.”
As a matter of fact, some Moroccan farmers were actually contacted by the Russians way before the news of the aforementioned sanctions made way to the public. According to a story shared on the Moroccan economy newspaper Les Eco, the Moroccan Exporters Association’s president Mr. Sentissi Hassan Elidrissi said that “our Russian friends have contacted us to inform us of the news [sanctions on EU] before it was public. Right now, we are preparing for an attack.” The man then closed his statement saying that this embargo “is a unique opportunity for more fruits and vegetables from the kingdom to join the Russian market once for all.”
As soon as the echo of Russia’s embargo reached Spain, our north-door neighbors prompted deep concerns over the situation to the point that their farmers literally mentioned Morocco as the potential country that may benefit from this turn of event. (Russia is the main non-EU destination for Spain’s fruit and vegetables products with 167,256 tons of vegetables exported in 2013).
In fact, even the Spanish territorial delegate of Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment, José Manuel Ortiz was caught very worried about the situation when he said “that Russia will probably set sight now on countries like Morocco and Turkey” and that it will cost “a lot of time and efforts to reclaim” those markets if Russia makes deals with them.
To my eyes, Spanish farmers are very unfortunate indeed. As a Moroccan who judges the the turn of event a good opportunity for my country, I do really feel bad for the Spanish farmers sad toll, especially that the first two months of 2014 witnessed record exports of food-products from Spain to Russia, with the province of Almeria alone making a 598.3 million Euro turnover from its food-exports to said country.
When announcing the decision, the Russian Prime Minister Medvedev said that “there is nothing good in sanctions.” I literally won’t second-guess that statement for Spain’s case. But for Morocco, “there is only good in those sanctions.” After all, good or bad, this is just how life unfolds. As the French saying goes, “Le Malheur des uns fait le Bonheur des autres.”