Agrarian Saturdays: an Advanced Training Program for FEA Managers Starts at MGIMO

On October 1, MGIMO together with the Agroexport Federal Center launched an advanced training program for foreign economic activity managers. The course is as part of the strategic project “Institute of World Agricultural Markets” under the governmental program supporting Russian universities “Priority 2030”.

Artem Malgin, MGIMO Vice-Rector for Development, addressed the participants of the program with the welcome speech. He reminded that the cooperation between the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia and MGIMO had begun five years ago with the launch of an agricultural attaches program, and then a separate master’s program. “We have gathered a unique team of experts from different companies and universities. We have formed a consortium with KubGAU and StGAU. We also cooperate with our friends from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Agroexport, as well as with a huge number of agricultural companies. Our graduates work in foreign countries, at the Agroexport, in large Russian agricultural holdings ­­­­­­— and we are so proud of them”.

Dmitry Krasnov, Head of the Agroexport, devoted his lecture to the role of export in agricultural development in Russia and in ensuring domestic food security. Today about 16% of agricultural products are exported and, in some cases, export exceeds 50% (sunflower oil and other fat-and-oil products). Thus, in conditions of a limited domestic market, international expansion is a prerequisite for the sustainable development of numerous branches of the domestic agro-industrial complex. “Agricultural producers engaged in export activities are more profitable, they have access to preferential loans and it is easier for them to attract investments due to a wider geography of sales in foreign markets,” ­— he added.

Ilya Strokin, Head of Competence Center in Agroindustrial Complex KPMG Russia, focused on key features of global food trade. He outlined the main trends that determine the sustainability and directions of agricultural development, and highlighted factors influencing consumer behavior. “Each market is a universe, so it is necessary to adapt our production to each demand coming from regions in which we are interested,” ­— Strokin said.

We witness a transformation in society’s perception of the agricultural sector, says Alexander Stoklitskiy, Commercial Director of LLC Lipetsk Meat. “20 years ago, the agriculture was subsidized and was not considered prestigious for young specialists. Today, the Russian agricultural sector plays a crucial role in global trade and can offer graduates excellent working conditions. They can study export markets, consumer preferences in foreign countries, tariff and non-tariff regulation,” — he added. Using the Saudi and Chinese markets as examples, Stoklitskiy showed how important it is to immerse yourself in the context, scrutinize and interpret foreign trade statistics.

Georgy Semenov, Project Manager at the Agroexport, concentrated on steps that need to be accomplished before the start of exports. He reviewed three approaches to export development, in particular on the life cycle of an export project. The expert paid special attention to the research stage, typical mistakes made at this stage, and analyzed ways of addressing the underlying problems.

The first day ended with a lecture on identifying target markets. In the first part, Alesya Efremova, Deputy Head of Research and Development of Foreign Trade Projects at the Agroexport, dwelled on the concept of a target market, enumerated the types of actual research and information resources. Among other things, she singled out the analytical products of the Agroexport ­ — export guides, foreign trade reviews, product promotion concepts, etc. — devoted to help exporters to better build their foreign economic activity. In the second part, Sampat Liyanage, Global Sales Director, Export & Sales at May took the floor. He gave practical examples and shared his experience in entering new markets with Russian products.

Four more lecture days lay ahead. The participants of the program will get acquainted with financial, legal and organizational aspects of agri export and learn by concrete examples the complexities and barriers which may be encountered during entering the foreign market with agri products.