China recently halted land-based import of a variety of Russian products, including finished lubricants, after authorities found COVID-19 virus on some packaged Russian products.
In its fight against the pandemic, China’s sanitary measures for trade are among the strictest in the world. In the northern border areas of China, authorities recently detected specimens of Omicron, the latest coronavirus variant first identified in South Africa, local news reported. The specimens were detected on some packaged products.
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Effective Dec. 1, Beijing temporarily halted non-container shipments at the Zabaikalsk-Manzhouli border crossing in the northern province of Hulunbuir, Inner Mongolia, and at the Grodekovo-Suifenhe crossing located at Heilongjiang, a province that borders Russia’s Primorski Krai, according to the Dec.1 news release by the Russian trade representative in China.
China also halted all cargo land traffic at Erenhot, a border crossing with Mongolia.
The Manzhouli border area is the largest railway transportation hub between China and Russia. At this crossing, Chinese authorities temporarily banned the non-container movement of products such as charcoal, finished lubricants and cellulose, as well as some foods and timber products. The border crossing is closed for car passenger traffic, too.
This information was confirmed by the Russian railway monopoly RZD, according to a report by Kommersant daily.
Market observers expect the ban to last until the end of January.
Russia moves about 15.4 million metric tons of products through the Zabaikalsk border crossing and almost 9 million tons through the Gordekovo crossing, according to a representative of the Institute for Natural Monopolies Research.
“As a result of this ban, Russian companies can amass more than 18 billion rubles of losses,” said Vladimir Savchuk, deputy head of the institute.
This temporary ban could lead to a backlog of hundreds of cargo trucks on these border crossings, experts say. This could lead transporters to seek alternative routes for the blocked shipments. The only alternative route for cargo transportation in this region would be Russia’s Far East seaports, which already have backups with ships waiting to dock, according to the local media.
Because of the backlogs in the Far East ports, delivery time for different retail products to Russia and Europe coming from China has been doubled, and it takes two months for shipments to arrive. This has led to increased shipping costs. The situation is unfavorable for small marketers and distributors who cannot afford alternative means of transportation, experts said. Big retailers are using the mail service Russian Post, which uses air cargo for shipment delivery. AliExpress, the largest marketplace in China, also uses air cargo to ship products to Russia and Europe.