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China-Kazakhstan Trade Hits Record High

China-Kazakhstan Trade Hits Record High

Kazakhstan is experiencing a surge…

Eurasianet

Eurasianet

Eurasianet is an independent news organization that covers news from and about the South Caucasus and Central Asia, providing on-the-ground reporting and critical perspectives on…

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Kazakhstan Quadruples Grain Exports to China

  • Kazakhstan's agricultural exports to China, including wheat, barley, and other grains, quadrupled in 2023 compared to 2022, achieving a record 2.2 million tons.
  • The growth in exports was facilitated by the easing of COVID-19 restrictions at Chinese customs and the expansion of Kazakhstan's infrastructure capabilities, including railway crossings.
  • The Grain Union of Kazakhstan sees potential for further export growth to China, highlighting the Chinese market's reliability and capacity for absorbing even weather-spoiled grain.
Grain

The easing of the COVID-related sanitary regime at Chinese customs crossings enabled Kazakhstan to quadruple the amount of agricultural goods it exported to the country in 2023 as compared to a year earlier.

The 2.2 million tons, which comprised wheat, barley, soybeans, flax and sunflower seeds, that was sent to China last year was not just significantly more than the 615,000 tons delivered in 2022. It was also a large surge on the previous record of 1.2 million tons recorded in 2019.

Most of the deliveries were carried on freight trains, but around 500,000 tons were transported by road.

The return of the Chinese market has helped the Kazakh farming sector out of a tough spot. As a result of the ongoing quarantine regime in China and payment difficulties experienced by heavily sanctioned Iran, Kazakhstan’s farmers were left almost entirely with neighbors in Central Asia as customers.

China’s purchases extended to Kazakh grain heavily spoiled by adverse weather conditions. Heavy rains last year caused up to 5 million tons of grain to sprout — and only Chinese importers had equipment suitable for processing it.

Yevgeny Karabanov, a representative for the Grain Union of Kazakhstan, a lobby group, is buoyant about China emerging as such a dependable customer.

“China is a huge and solvent market, there are never problems with payment for deliveries to China,” he told the Eldala news site.

Karabanov believes there is potential for greater exports to China. In 2023, China imported 12 million tons of wheat — of that total, 400,000 tons came from Kazakhstan. That could be tripled, Karabanov says.

Experts consider this a real prospect against the backdrop of Kazakhstan’s expanding infrastructure capabilities. The two railway crossings — Dostyk-Alashankou and Altynkol-Khorgos — have the capacity to accommodate much more than is currently going through them. Another line to Dostyk now under construction will be launched in a few years.

The only drawback of developing China as an economic partner, Karabanov said, is the sluggishness of the bureaucratic machine and the people running it.

“We have to maintain constant communication with them and nudge them,” he said. “As soon as those contacts are weakened, we start seeing problems with cargo at their end.”

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By Almaz Kumenov via Eurasianet.org

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