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Russian Far East Minister: New Grain Terminal Near Completion for Russia-to-China Grain Flow

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EIRNS—At the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 19, Aleksey Chekunkov, Russia’s Minister for Far East Development, told TASS that a key new grain terminal was near completion to serve the Russia-China grain flow, at a point in the Trans-Baikal region. “It [the Zabaikalsky terminal] is already almost 80% ready. This is an integrated program in broad terms. It comprises the Zabaikalsky grain terminal and a range of grain elevator and logistical infrastructure, which is to enable Siberia and the Far East to fully unlock their agricultural potential, since there is no sense in sowing vast areas or performing soil reclamation without having sales markets in the vicinity.”

In 2017-18, the New Land Grain Corridor Group of Companies, led by the company of the same name, began implementation of the New Land Grain Corridor [NLGC] program. Among the program’s chief aims is building in Russia “large-scale projects with a significant multiplier effect both for the economies of the regions of implementation and the growth of foreign trade.” It promotes the “development of contract manufacturing of grain, grain legumes, and oil seeds,” which means that as well as increasing production, the crops would be sold through medium- to longer-term set contracts from Russia to China, at stable prices, rather than fluctuating, speculator-rigged market prices. The NLGC program was approved at the highest levels of Russia’s and China’s governments.

This has led to the building of grain processing and storage infrastructure, including a network of grain elevators, with construction of a significant grain terminal at Zabaikalsky on the border of Russia and China in the Trans-Baikal region. Russian President Vladimir Putin said of the project, “Our countries are involved in establishing a new land grain corridor, which will contribute to the expansion of exports of Siberian grain to China and other countries of the Asia-Pacific region. Such diversification of transport and logistics routes is fully in line with the concept of interfacing Eurasian Union and the Silk Road Economic Belt.”

Russia and China took a significant step in the New Land Grain Corridor, whose intent is to insure the unlocking of Russia’s Siberia and Far East regions agricultural potential, by increasing these regions’ crop output, and successfully shipping it to China. In this process, it will aid, through Russian and Chinese investment and technology, in the development of Russia’s vastly underpopulated, very large Siberian and Far East land areas.

Siberia accounts for one-fifth of Russia’s vast arable land. One crop of great interest is soybeans, for which China is currently reliant on imports for 80% of its consumption. The soybean originated in Mongolia, and up-breeding of seeds promises traits furthering its growth in the north. [ref]