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China expands market for Russian wheat; move unrelated to Ukraine situation, analyst says

Wheat from all of Russia’s producing regions will be cleared for export to China, provided they meet certain requirements, China’s customs authority announced in a statement on Thursday.

Though the announcement was made on the same day as Russia’s military operation against Ukraine, it is unrelated to the Russia-Ukraine situation, Chinese analysts said.

The announcement of the new arrangements is unrelated to the developing situation in Ukraine, with negotiations concluded at an earlier date, Cui Heng, an assistant research fellow from the Center for Russian Studies of East China Normal University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

According to a bilateral agreement signed by Russian agricultural and Chinese customs authority in earlier February, Russian wheat from all producing regions can now be exported to China, according to the statement posted on the website of the General Administration of Customs.

Cui said that the new rule will benefit wheat exports originated from Russia’s Far East, where many Chinese companies have been engaged in farming and previously could only sell their produce within the Russian market.

The former seven wheat producing regions cleared for exports are not located in the Far East.

The wheat price in Russia is only one third of that in the Chinese market, giving it an advantage, but the new rule does not mean wheat imports will be expanded as China still imposes an import quota on wheat imports, Cui said.

But Russian wheat should meet quarantine requirements by Chinese authorities, and all the shipments should bear a note stating “the consignment of wheat complies with the requirements specified in the Protocol of phytosanitary requirements for wheat exported from the Russian Federation to the People’s Republic of China and is free from dwarf bunt of wheat Tilletia controversa J.G. Kuhn.”

Dwarf bunt is a destructive disease that reduces grain yield and quality and is of particularly concern to Chinese authorities.

Russian authorities should also take preventative measures according to International Plant Protection Convention and related international standards to monitor pests and provide an annual monitoring report for Dwarf bunt to China.

Should dwarf bunt be detected, the Russian side should immediately inform Chinese authorities and suspend wheat exports from affected regions.

As China-Russia trade witnessed accelerated growth over recent years, Russia’s agricultural products exports to China have also been surging.

In 2021, as bilateral trade jumped up 26.6 percent year-on-year to 948.66 billion yuan ($150 billion), Russian seed oil, barley and beef exports to China surged. Barley exports grew 12 times to 75,000 tons from 2020 levels.
Source: Global Times

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