Faroe Islands Aim to Remain Russia’s Top Fish Supplier

The Faroe Islands want to cement their place as Russia’s biggest foreign supplier of fish and are eying a free trade deal with Moscow next year to achieve this goal, Reuters reported citing an official.

According to data from Russia’s customs agency, the island country became the largest exporter of fish to Russia last year, supplanting Norway following the tit-for-tat sanctions with western countries that followed Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

The boom in exports to Russia began in 2013, when the European Union, in turn, imposed sanctions on the Faroe Islands in a dispute over fishing quotas.

“Thereby our exports of fish to Russia which now amount to roughly DKK 2.4 billion ($380 million) a year would be formalized, allowing us to maintain this level for a longer period,” Faroe Islands’ foreign and trade minister Poul Michelsen said.

Michelsen aims to kick off free trade talks with EEU members Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan after signing a declaration of intent in August.

Faroe Islands are a part of the Kingdom of Denmark but have opted out of joining the EU. The tiny nation’s economy grew nearly 7% in 2016, driven by exports of farmed salmon which have flourished in recent years.

Before the quota dispute, as much as 80 percent of their fish exports went to the bloc. Now just 43 percent go there, while 29 percent go to Russia.

“We were wrong to trust the EU. So now we’re pursuing a strategy not to put all our eggs in one basket and become less vulnerable by distributing exports to several countries,” Michelsen said.