Chinese pork firms receive import permits from Russia as ban lifted

By Zhao Qian Source:Global Times Published: 2014-9-22 23:53:02

Two firms belonging to ­Shuanghui Group, one of China's leading meat producers, have received permission from Russia's agricultural supervisor to export frozen pork to the country, which had previously suspended pork imports from China since 2004, the Chinese meat group confirmed with the Global Times Monday.

"Our two companies are stepping up manufacturing of frozen pork products to satisfy demand from Russian importers," Liu Jintao, director of public relations at Shuanghui Group, told the Global Times. The first exports would depend on orders from Russian importers, said Liu.

Russia lifted a 10-year ban on pork imports from China at the end of August, according to media reports, while having imposed earlier in the same month a one-year ban on imports of products including meat and milk from Western economies such as the US and European Union due to political conflict.

Russia had suspended pork imports from China in 2004, citing that Chinese pork products were suspected of being tainted by foot-and-mouth disease.

Several Chinese meat producers including Shandong Jinluo Enterprise Group General Corporation were reported earlier this month to be likely to gain export permission from the Russian agricultural supervisor as the first batch of permitted companies.

But only the two firms belonging to Shuanghui received the permits, said Liu of Shuanghui.

The two enterprises are located in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, which borders the eastern part of Russia. The short distance from the companies to Russia "will be helpful in reducing transportation costs" for Shuanghui, according to Liu.

"It is an important step for ­Shuanghui to expand its business globally," after Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd bought the world's largest pork processor Smithfield Foods in 2013, Gao Guan, deputy secretary-general of the China Meat Association, told the Global Times on Monday.

Gao also noted that the resumption of pork exports to Russia may also boost China's pork industry, which is experiencing a sluggish time due to high breeding cost for pigs.

China exported 346,000 tons of pork in 2013, much fewer compared to 1.39 million tons of imported pork in the same period, according to data from General Administration of Customs.

In contrast, China's production of pork was much larger compared with its international trade, with its total production hitting 54.93 million tons in 2013, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

"Russia's resumption of pork imports from China is a win-win solution for the two countries. Russia barely has a domestic pork industry so they import almost all their pork," said Wu Fei, a professor at Guangzhou-based Ji'nan University.

In addition to ensuring the supply of pork to its domestic consumers after Russia banned meat imports from Western countries, Russian imports from China will also be helpful in boosting yuan and ruble exchange directly during trade between the two countries, said Wu.

Russia's central bank governor Elvira Nabiullina was quoted by Reuters as saying in July that Russia and China were close to an agreement on conducting swap operations in ruble and yuan to enhance bilateral trade.

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