Sino-Russian agricultural cooperation
Updated: 2013-04-18 08:02
By Li Demin (China Daily)
Agricultural cooperation is an important area for advancing pragmatic cooperation between China and Russia. Yet their agricultural cooperation lags far behind their industrial cooperation and their political and cultural interactions. To strengthen bilateral relations, deepen economic and trade cooperation, and promote interactive development of the border regions, China and Russia need to strengthen agricultural cooperation.
In fact, both governments have shown their support for agricultural cooperation.
In September 2009, the leaders of China and Russia approved a cooperative guideline for Northeast China and the Far East and East Siberia regions of Russia, emphasizing agriculture is the priority investment field and encouraging investments in agricultural technological cooperation and the construction of cooperative grain plants and other modern agricultural operations.
China's State Council vowed in its No 1 document of 2010 to boost the opening-up of China's agriculture, strengthen international cooperation of agricultural technology and agricultural resource development and support for Chinese agricultural enterprises seeking to explore the global market.
The State Council issued its guideline on the cultivation of new strengths in international cooperation and competition on May 24, 2012, which proposed that China should expand its agricultural cooperation with the outside world.
The Joint Statement of China and Russia inked during Russian President Vladimir Putin's state visit to China in June 2012 proposed China and Russia establish large-scale cooperation programs in agriculture and the other fields to promote the economic cooperation of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
In 2012, the Russian government proposed leasing millions of hectares of land in Russia's Far East to foreign investors and announced the country would build five agricultural product processing complexes in Primorsky Krai, Khabarovsk Krai, Amur Oblast, Sakhalin Oblast and the Jewish Autonomous Oblast by 2016 to guarantee the sustainable development of the region and regional food security.
On Jan 17, 2013, local officials of Russia's Primorsky Krai said the region welcomes Chinese enterprises and business people's investment and there are bright prospects for bilateral cooperation in agriculture, light industries and many other fields.
Chinese enterprises will be able to find huge business opportunities in this wave of agricultural expansions in Russia.
After Russia joined the World Trade Organization last year, the environment for agricultural cooperation became even more favorable, and after the Heilongjiang provincial government in Northeast China upgraded its economic and trade cooperation strategies, many Chinese enterprises launched planting, breeding and agricultural product processing industries in Russia.
While Chinese enterprises prosper from their operations in Russia, Chinese agricultural enterprises in Russia contribute to local economic and social development, and boost local economic growth and tax revenues. Chinese enterprises also attach great importance to their social responsibilities, providing jobs for local residents, actively integrating into the local society and continually donating to local charity affairs.
The remarkable performances of some model Chinese enterprises have won plaudits not only from local governments but also from the Russian State Duma.
But there are still some problems. The economic nationalism of Russia has been an obstacle for a long time. Local governments often change their policies, aggravating the uncertainties for Chinese enterprises. Russia's Far East region is geographically vast and has few inhabitants. Local governments' governance and service provision are comparatively weak.
Chinese enterprises have their shortcomings too. Their scale is small and their anti-risk capacity is weak. They lack talented personnel and the necessary financing channels.
One important and practical measure to promote the development of modern agriculture and agricultural cooperation in both countries is to optimize the deployment of agricultural production factors in both countries and strengthen cooperation in border regions, which is of great significance for the food security of both countries and to strengthen bilateral relations as "good neighbors, good friends and good partners".
The author is president of the Huaxin Group of Heilongjiang province in Northeast China.
(China Daily 04/18/2013 page8)