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All news / Don’t Bet on Russian Soybeans, Russian Expert Warns China

  • 20 Aug 2019, 09:47

А Russian agricultural specialist has warned that soybean exports to China are likely to remain low for the next few years, suggesting that the amount produced will not be enough to provide a real alternative to production from the United States, the South China Morning Post reports.

Soybean imports in China are the latest victim of a raging trade war with the U.S., as Beijing suspended purchases of U.S. soybeans and other farm products this month after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened to impose more tariffs on Chinese products.

Russia is one of the many alternative sources for the crop – a vital food source for farm animals – and last month China approved imports of soybeans from all parts of Russia, opening itself up to supplies from the European part. Although Russia’s overall production of soybeans is much lower than America’s, some in Beijing hoped its northern neighbor would be able to make a significant contribution in the future.

Last month China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan said the country hoped to “deepen its trade in soybeans” with Russia after a meeting with his counterparts in Moscow, days after Rusagro, a Russian agricultural exporter, had shipped its first bulk vessel of soybeans to China. But Dmitry Rylko, director-general of the Moscow-based Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR), said Beijing should not pin its hopes on this new source of supplies.

“In the next few years, European Russia’s soybean exports to China may be very low,” Rylko told an annual gathering of Chinese soybean growers, traders and officials in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang on the border with Russia, on Friday.

He said soybean output in the European part of Russia would not be able to satisfy domestic demands until 2024, despite an increase in plantation areas. Since Russia still needs to import soybeans to fulfill its own needs, it was unlikely to provide an effective answer to China’s problems, Rylko added.

The expert also warned that many of the European soybeans were not of particularly high quality because they were relatively low in protein. He predicted that the best-case scenario would see Russian soybean exports reaching 2 million tons a year – a significant rise on last year’s total of 800,000 tons.