(RIA Novosti) - Russia's burgeoning contacts with China appeared to take a minor knock Tuesday, when the Asian giant said it had no plans to lease a huge area of Russian forest.
In April, Valery Roshchupkin, head of Russia's agency overseeing the industry, said Russia had agreed to lease a pilot area of a million cubic meters for China's forest industry and timber processing. He said the details would be discussed in 2007, reports Trend.
But Cao Qingyao, a spokesman for the Chinese government forestry agency, seemed to pour cold water on the idea. "I have no such information," he said.
Roshchupkin also said in April that China had promised to draw up proposals on using the woodland, but the Chinese official denied any contacts with Russia on the subject.
"China's state department for the forest industry has received no official invitation from the Russian side," he said, but added that Russia and China had established broad cooperation in the sector.
"Trade in timber is a significant element in Russian-Chinese trade," he said. "We have a reliable basis for mutually advantageous cooperation."
Russia's annual exports to China amount to 15 mln cubic meters of rough timber (37 % of Russia's round wood exports). China's share in Russian needle wood exports is 45 %.
Russia currently has 43 joint forest projects with China, producing 1.9 mln cubic meters of timber annually.