China Further Opens Agricultural Trade With Russia To Offset Trade Dispute Effects

China Russia Trade
Soybeans are seen loaded in a truck after being harvested (Photo: Reuters / Jorge Adorno)

China's General Administration of Customs formally announced late last week that it will now be allowing the importation of various agricultural products from Russia.

The agency revealed on its website that importation of products such as soybean meal, sunflower mean, sugar beet pulp, and rapeseed meal has now been approved.

The Chinese regulator clarified that exporters of the animal feed ingredients would still have to seek inspection and approval from Russian and Chinese authorities before shipments can be made.

The approval announcement for the importation of the agricultural products comes at the heels of China's recent move to bolster its agricultural imports from Russia.

In July, the General Administration of Customs announced that it has been mandated to boost the country's importation of soybean and wheat from Russia.

The decision was made in order for the country to keep up with its rising domestic demand. Part of the reason was also for the country to offset its supply due to its ongoing trade dispute with the United States.

According to industry experts, the move by the Chinese regulator was a necessary one to ensure the country's grain security. The country does heavily rely on imports of several agricultural products, including those from the United States.

Diversifying its import channels amidst its trade spat with the United States should allow the country to mitigate the effects of the already year-long trade dispute.

According to experts at the China Agricultural University, China has now become the world's largest market for food trade. The country will need to build a support structure to keep its supply in check. Experts believe that China should be able to achieve this goal given its various strategic projects, including the Belt and Road Initiative.

Bolstering trade with its neighbors, including Russia, is a vital strategy for the country as its consumers' diets evolve. Importation of items such as edible oil, dairy, and meat are expected to rapidly grow.

Importation of items that boost the country's food manufacturing capability, such as animal feeds for pigs, cow, and fish, are also expected to grow drastically in the coming years.

Last month, China's Ministry of Commerce announced that it is laying out plans to strengthen its trade ties with Russia to further expand market access. The strategy is aimed at facilitating deeper agricultural cooperation between both nations through more open bilateral trades.

For the month of July, China imported an estimated 4,400 metric tons of soybeans from Russia. For 2018, agricultural trade between both nations reached an estimated worth of $5 billion, a substantial 28.2 percent year-on-year increase. 

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