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Forest Product Exports From the Russian Far East and Eastern Siberia to China: Status and Trends

By Alexey Lankin
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Since 2001, China has been a top destination of Russian forest product exports to the Asia-Pacific region. The foreign economic and trade liberalization that began in Russia in the mid-1990s – combined with the high demand for timber imports into China due to the Chinese domestic logging ban starting in 1998 – has stimulated strong Chinese trade capital in the Russian Far East forested regions , especially in border areas. The value of Russia’s log and lumber exports to China grew approximately six times between 1998 and 2002, while paper and paperboard exports increased by 18% from 2000 to 2002. However, the value of Russia’s timber exports grew at a much slower pace compared to the rapidly increasing volume. This is due in part to the low volume of processed products exported to China and the large number of relatively inexperienced exporters who are either undercutting each others’ prices or knowingly
underestimating the value of exported timber. Russia’s timber export market reflects many of the current social and economic conditions and institutional changes in Russia during its transition to a market economy, including basic issues of governance, legality and transparency to low economic efficiency and resource exhaustion.