Russian officials repeatedly claim the increase in trade between the two countries, accompanied by political and economic integration, may compensate the effect of any economic sanctions that the USA and European Union (EU) impose against the country.
Trade in meat could be one of the main areas of collaboration, according to officials. In particular, Russia could become the main supplier of organic meat to China in the near future.
"Russia could become one of the main suppliers of organic meat, as China is investing heavily in the development of clean environmental products," said Russian business-ombudsman Boris Titov, claiming that Russia is the largest manufacturer of environmentally friendly products in the world.
According to Titov, Russia should lift restrictions on poultry imports from China, introduced due to the spread of avian influenza in the country.
More important, however, is the fact that Russia plans to start buying meat in China to compensate for recent losses in the market due to veterinary bans – in particular the supply of pork from the EU.
Russia looks to initiate pork imports from China
According to representatives of Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, Russia could begin to buy pork in China in the coming months. "We have been negotiating with China for some time, but we did not advertise this," said head of Rosselkhoznadzor Sergey Dankvert. "In fact, discussions started at the time when we warned the EU about the possibility of African swine fever penetrating its territories, because we knew we should have alternative suppliers."
However, meat industry executives are not keen on the idea of the direct purchases of meat from China. "For operators in the market, the fact that China and Rosselkhoznadzor have held talks about the possibility of supplying pork to Russia was a big surprise," said Sergey Yushin, head of the executive committee of Russia’s National Meat Association.
"This is due to the fact that the epizootic situation in China for a number of animal diseases, including those dangerous to humans, has not improved in the past few years.
"In terms of volume, China can certainly supply any requests the Russian market might have, but we are not happy with that at all. It is unclear what positive move in China has happened to suddenly force Rosselkhoznadzor to start negotiations on such supplies," he added.
China may replace EU lard on the Russian market
However, negotiations with the Chinese authorities may be associated with the import of lard, which is also produced in China, and is of acceptable quality. Russia currently imports 60% of all its lard, with half of those deliveries coming from the EU.
"Chinese lard is attractively priced and generally meets the requirements of Rosselkhoznadzor on quality, so theoretically such imports could really help the Russian meat industry, which currently faces serious shortage problems," said Russian agricultural analyst Eugene Gerden. "At the same time, in technical terms, this would not be so easy to achieve, as the factories producing lard in China also produce other animal products, the quality of which is questionable."