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Afghanistan, Russia mulling to strike gas-for-fruits swap

AT Monitoring Desk-KABUL: Russia after banning food imports from some of its major suppliers like the European Union, the ex-Soviet country is now discussing a deal with Afghanistan to swap natural gas for fruit, media reports said on Friday.

The reports said that according to officials from Afghanistan’s Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI), the two countries have discussed a bilateral trade agreement whereby Russia would provide natural gas in exchange for Afghan fruit products.

The exact terms of the agreement have not yet been established.

Fruitnews.info reported that the ACCI deputy chairman, Khan Jan Alokozay, said the organization was in favor of the initiative, and that the deal would also give Afghanistan an additional trade partner when traditionally its trade relationships were limited to neighboring countries.

The source said that Russian vegetable growers have been struggling with rising production costs since last summer, and have asked authorities to prolong preferential lending by a minimum of two years to increase their competitiveness against countries like Iran and Turkey.

Fertilizer costs in particular are said to have risen dramatically, with National Union of Vegetable Producers president Sergei Korolev reportedly saying ammonium nitrate prices in some areas has risen from 12,000 rubles ($180) per-metric ton last summer to 15,000 rubles (US$230) now.

According to the source, greenhouse vegetable growers were hoping for government subsidies in the form of reduced electricity costs to further boost competitiveness.

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