China's pork products heading to Russia

Updated: 2014-08-22 07:15

By Zhong Nan and Mu Chen(China Daily USA)

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Chinese pork products will replace banned pork exports from the West, which are unlikely to win back their place in the Russian market even if the present ban is lifted, according to Russia's meat products watchdog.

Russia's Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance said in a statement on the agency's website on Wednesday that "the Russian government now is actively cooperating with China's veterinary authorities on pork supplies from certain highly integrated Chinese enterprises".

Russia's Far East region used to rely heavily on meat supplies from the United States and Canada. The change in meat suppliers comes after Moscow imposed a one-year ban on a number of agricultural products, including meat, fish, poultry, fruit, vegetables, wine and dairy products from the US, the member nations of the European Union, Norway, Canada and Australia as retaliation for their economic sanctions.

Tian Zhihong, a professor specializing in the international trade of agricultural products at China Agricultural University in Beijing, said even though Russia's move is still at an early stage, it will have profound political and economic implications because it comes at a critical time when the US and its European allies are trying to squeeze the country's trade space in the world market.

To gain more access to other markets, Russia also is allowing imports from neighboring Belarus and Kazakhstan of food processed from Western raw materials as Moscow seeks to curb domestic food price increases triggered by its ban on food imported from the West.

"Because Russia can gain pork supplies from other member states of the Commonwealth of Independent States such as Belarus, Armenia and Moldova to support the demand in its western part, China's rising pork exports to Russia will be processed and consumed in the country's eastern part," Tian said.

China's pork products heading to Russia

Tian said companies from China's Sichuan and Henan provinces and northeastern region are likely to be selected to export pork to Russia, because these regions have developed pig-raising and pork-processing industries.

Russia imported 619,200 metric tons of pork valued at $2.13 billion in 2013, with Denmark, Germany, Canada and Brazil as its main suppliers, according to data from Russia's Federal Customs Service. The country purchased 79,300 metric tons of Canadian pork for $246.3 million and received $19 million worth of pork from the US last year.

Meanwhile, Russia also imported 658,400 metric tons of cooled and frozen meat, valued at $2.87 billion, with Belarus and Brazil among the top exporters.

Li Guoxiang, deputy director of the Rural Development Institute at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said as China is the world's biggest pork producer, the nation has a well-developed pork processing industry. It has also implemented strict quality control on its pork exports.

Supported by a booming feed industry and surging domestic meat demand, China exported 1.68 million pigs and 73,000 metric tons of frozen pork in 2013. "Russia is no longer only importing China's vegetables and fruit but it is highly likely to purchase more Chinese meat and farm products to ensure supply and stabilize domestic goods price while diplomatic relations between Russia and the West are still unclear," said Li.

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(China Daily USA 08/22/2014 page18)