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China Urges Early Lift of Russian Ban on Meat, Rice
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Chinese agricultural officials appealed in Moscow on Thursday to speed up talks with their Russian colleagues to eliminate bans on each other's agricultural products such as meat, rice and milk at an early date.

"We hope concerned departments from the two governments will speed up consultations on agricultural quarantine and settle those problems as soon as possible," said Qian Keming, director of a promotion center for agricultural trade under Chinese Ministry of Agriculture.

Russia has banned imports of Chinese chilled meat and prepared meat product while China has forbidden imports of Russian wheat and animal products including milk since September 2004, due to disputes on quarantine. Russia imposed a ban on Chinese rice last December.

China-Russia agricultural trade, however, recorded fast growth in recent years. The average annual growth rate hit 30 percent since 1999. Bilateral agricultural trade volume amounted to US$2.18 billion last year, Qian told a press conference.

Also on Thursday, Zhou Qijiang, deputy director of the overseas economic cooperation center under the Ministry of Agriculture, said that China will coordinate with Russia to set up platforms for cooperation and give directions for joint agricultural projects.

China will encourage big agricultural companies to invest in Russia and lead experienced technicians to carry out cooperation in Russia, he said.

Russia, rich in land and resources but with less population, has become a new destination of Chinese agricultural companies which are rich in know-hows and management experience as well as funds thanks to the three decades of reform in Chinese agricultural sector.

There have been more than 70 agricultural production bases established by Chinese companies in Russia's far east and the area summed up to 100,000 hectare, according to the ministry's statistics.

(Xinhua News Agency June 1, 2007)

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