05 November 1998
USA beats EU to food deal with Russia

THE USA is close to concluding a food aid deal for Russia following warnings from Moscow that the countrys food stocks were running low.

The USA has made the move ahead of the European Union (EU), which has been urged by its farming lobby to make a similar deal for some time.

Dan Glickman, the US agricultural secretary, said it was hoped to finalise a deal by the end of this week to provide 3.1 million tonnes in food aid.

The aid is valued at $500m (£295m) and is less than had been requested. The USA has pledged to provide more aid if necessary.

Yuri Maslyukuv, the Russian deputy prime minister, said food stocks had dropped to levels that would last a maximum two to three weeks.

Analysts said Russia is more likely to face shortages of meat and dairy products than of bread.

The EU has also had talks with Moscow concerning food aid, but says it has yet to receive a formal request for help.

EU farmers who have a large surplus of grain have complained that the EU is being too slow to address the potential food crisis in Russia.

Luc Guyau, head of a European farming lobby, said: “What the United States decides in three days the Europeans take three months over.”