Chinese agricultural experts see great potential for soybean imports from Russia, a win-win cooperation
Published: May 17, 2024 04:13 PM
Soybean Photo: VCG

Soybean Photo: VCG

China is promoting high-quality imports of soybeans alongside its growing domestic production. Chinese agricultural experts and industry insiders noted that the cooperation between China and Russia in the soybean industry serves as win-win cooperation which not only meets China's growing import demand, but also provides Russia with a huge export market and development opportunities.

Agricultural experts from China and Russia have conducted in-depth discussions on bilateral cooperation, food security, food processing, providing suggestions and support for the development of agriculture in both countries, reported.

The meeting was held amid the ongoing eighth China-Russia Expo from May 16 to 21 in Harbin, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, which borders Russia's Far East region. Analysts said that Russia has huge potential in soybean cultivation and exports, which is also an important focus of cooperation between the two sides.

The cooperation between China and Russia in various fields such as energy, agriculture, finance, infrastructure is accelerating. Meanwhile, business representatives from the two countries remain enthusiastic about the future of bilateral trade ties.

Driven by the market need for diversifying sources of supplies for food security reasons while reducing reliance on singular suppliers, it is believed that China's soybean imports from Russia will increase in the near future, experts said.

Russia is also likely to become a major supplier of carbohydrate foods such as wheat, rice, and corn to China, reducing the country's reliance on protein (mainly referring to soybeans) imports from the US. This shift in trade dynamics will strengthen the cooperation between China and Russia in the agricultural sector, an industry insider told the Global Times on Thursday.

"Russia's extensive landmass and suitable climate in the east, which resembles that of China's key soybean producing regions including Heilongjiang, have led it to becoming an emerging soybean supplier for China," Xin Dawei, a professor at the Northeast Agricultural University told the Global Times on Thursday.

In fact, Russia has become one of the important importers of non-genetically modified soybeans for China. As Russia has started to develop its Far Eastern region, soybean trade between the two countries will see new impetus, Xin said.

China's soybean supply remains stable on the market as domestic output is steadily increasing, coupled with sufficient imports. China's soybean production reached 41.68 billion jin (20.84 million tons), an increase of 2.8 percent year-on-year, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

China is one of the largest markets for agricultural commodities and also the world's largest importer of soybeans. As the supply and demand of grains in China have long been in a tight balance, moderate imports are important to ensure China's food security, effectively compensating for the structural shortage of grain production, Chen Yijuan, a soybean analyst from Shanghai told the Global Times.

In 2023, China imported 99.4 million tons of soybeans in total, an increase of 11.4 percent year-on-year, with an import value of 419.9 billion yuan ($58.1 billion), according to statistics from the General Administration of Customs of China.

Currently, the US and Brazil both serve as primary sources of China's soybean imports, with the proportion of China's agricultural imports from Brazil steadily increasing. Among them, Brazil's share rose to 70 percent, while the US share decreased to 24 percent, according to public data.

Industry insiders said that the reason China now seeks to import substitutes from Brazil, Argentina and Russia is because their lower prices are still cheaper compared with domestically produced soybeans. They predicted that there will be more cooperation and development opportunities in the field of agriculture between China and Russia.