China, Russia set to double trade to US$200 billion by 2024 with help of soybeans


·         Growth will be driven by greater cooperation in fields of energy, industry, hi-tech and agriculture, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says

·         Comments come during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s three-day trip to Russia


Keegan Elmer, South China Morning Post (China) 

18 Sep, 2019


China and Russia are planning to double their trade over the next five years, aided by the removal of barriers to the sale of agricultural products, including soybeans, which have been a major feature of Beijing’s long-running tariff dispute with Washington.


Relations between China and Russia have been steadily warming as each has had its individual troubles with the United States, and the latest pledges appear to be a way to take advantage of that shared friction, analysts say.


Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev were set to sign a joint statement on Wednesday at the end of Li’s three-day trip to Russia.


After the pair met on Tuesday, Medvedev said they had agreed to boost two-way trade to US$200 billion by 2024, from US$107 billion last year.


“The plan is to achieve that mainly through joint projects in the fields of energy, industry, hi-tech and agriculture,” he said.


The two countries also planned to remove barriers to the supply of agricultural products, including soybeans, he said.


“We are consistently working to remove barriers that limit the development of agricultural trade. It concerns the supply of soybeans, wheat and a number of other crops to China,” Medvedev said.


Danil Bochkov, a contributing author at the Russian International Affairs Council, a non-profit academic and diplomatic think tank in Moscow, said the agreement on soybeans was intended to show the improvement in relations between the two countries, but despite that Russia would not be able to replace the US as a primary supplier of the crop to China.


“Russia is not physically capable of replacing the US because the amount of our soybean production pales in comparison to America’s,” he said.


“Nevertheless, Russia can enlarge its Far East soybean production and increase its exports to China. But this cannot be done overnight obviously.”


China imported about 84 million tonnes of soybeans last year. Traditionally, about a third of its demand is met by the US but as the trade war has escalated...