MOSCOW Dec 24 Russia may create special
economic zones with tax relief in its Far Eastern regions to
boost investments from Asian farmers into the agriculture
sector, Vedomosti newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing Russian
Deputy Economy minister Oleg Savelyev.
Russia's Far East Federal District, a region two-thirds the
size of the United States, has wide swathes of unfarmed fertile
land, but it is located several thousand kilometres away from
Russian grain export terminals on the Black Sea.
"The creation of special economic zones is possible in the
Far East," Savelyev told Vedomosti. "We have been holding
discussions with Japanese colleagues for several years."
These investors have already tried to sow soybeans and
buckwheat in Russia's Amur region, he added, but did not
elaborate. Savelyev did not answer a call from Reuters.
Russian legislation provides several options to foreigners
to access agricultural lands, the most popular of which is
long-term leasing, Dmitry Rylko, the head of Russia's Institute
for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR), told Reuters.
About 2.7 million hectares of Russia's 120-million hectares
agricultural land is controlled by foreign companies now, of
which 1 million hectares is controlled by firms from Kazakhstan
and Ukraine, according to his estimate.
Chinese firms already lease or control at least 600,000
hectares of land in the Far East.
(Reporting by Polina Devitt, editing by William Hardy)