Russia Could Restrict Lumber Exports to China to Protect Forests

Russia could temporarily restrict lumber exports to China due to the issues of forest reproduction and destruction, the country’s Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Dmitry Kobylkin said during the ‘government hour’ at the Federation Council (upper house of parliament) on Wednesday, according to Realnoe Vremya.

“China is the main market of lumber exports (from Russia). I told the (Chinese) minister that if we do not bring matters under control in the near future, particularly from the Chinese side, we will completely suspend lumber exports to China,” he said. “I am not saying that it should be done but it probably has to be done for a certain period of time,” Kobylkin told Russian Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko, answering the question when the problem of illegal logging and export would be solved in Russia.

According to the minister, the construction of seed-production facilities in Russia at China’s expense is one of the ways to solve the problem. “I told Chinese colleagues – let’s build 10-20 seed-production facilities on the Russian territory using your money. If you need forest, make sure it is reproduced,” he explained.

“The answer is not accepted,” Matviyenko said. “We are expecting a program, any program of strict, serious measures. Believe me, neither China nor anyone will help us if we do not bring matters under control,” she stressed.

Meanwhile, the CEO of the Russian Export Center Andrey Slepnev said this week that the volume of bilateral trade between Russia and China may reach $100 billion by the end of 2018 with the figure “expected to double in the years ahead.”

Imports of Russian goods to China amounted to $33.7 billion in the first eight months of this year, while exports stood at $35.2 billion. China’s share in Russia’s foreign trade today accounts for 15.6%.

“Russia’s exports to China totaled $26 billion in the first half of the current year, marking a 43 percent growth compared to the same period a year ago,” the official said, stressing that the institution expects the figure to increase up to $54 billion at year-end.