US exports to Russia plunged 34% in June, according to the Commerce Department, as sanctions and countersanctions ricochet elegantly around the world. Imports from Russia fell 10%, the third month in a row of declines. But US Trade with Russia is minuscule when compared to our trade with China. So the US doesn’t have a lot to lose.
It would never occur to Washington to impose radical sanctions on China. A tit-for-tat with China would be lethal, for both countries. So we trample on the ones we can afford to trample on.
Now Russia has issued a new round of counter-sanctions. “There’s nothing good about sanctions,” Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said as he announced them. “I’ve already said that many times, and this retaliation wasn’t easy for us.”
This time, among other goodies, it’s a one-year ban on beef, pork, poultry, fish, fruit, vegetables, cheese, milk and other dairy products from the US, Canada, the EU, Norway, and Australia.
Presumably, the US would get hit hard by the ban on poultry – with $300 million last year, the largest American agricultural export product to Russia. But Russia already expressed its displeasure with the US months ago by banning US poultry under the pretext of food-safety concerns. And a spokesman for top poultry producer Tyson Foods told the Wall Street Journal that the company would likely sell that excess poultry to other countries. So it’s not going to hurt that much.
But not all countries have as little at stake as the US. Prices could rise for Russian consumers if they lust for the banned products, which would hit Russians in the two places where it hurts the most: the wallet and the stomach. European food producers too would get hit hard – and none harder than Norway whose salmon fisheries have been targeted, though Norway, a direct neighbor of Russia, isn’t exactly the biggest instigator in all this:
Russian bans on foods from some Western countries could hurt Norway’s fishing industry http://t.co/ClVwzb70O6 pic.twitter.com/7XzirD4NWp
— WSJ News Graphics (@WSJGraphics) August 7, 2014
And the sanctions are already hitting the powerful engine that is supposed to pull Europe out of its quagmire, Germany. Its economy is stalling. The “disaster of 2008” is evoked, then hastily denied. Read…. Russia Sanctions Exact Their Pound of Flesh – from Germany
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If Obama really wants to put the hurt on Russian, he need only ban tweets and selfies from the US Department of State aimed at the Russians. Devastating consequences. E.g. see
Why on earth did the Europeans go along with the Americans’ call for sanctions?
And why on earth are the Europeans surprised that the Russians retaliated?
Russia is already sourcing the banned foods and materials from BRICS countries. Brazil will replace much of it with pleasure. China will replace the tech stuff. And NG not sold today will just wait and get a higher price later. Russia is holding ALL of the Aces in this game. Europe is holding the Joker (US).