BEIJING, CHINA — China is proposing a “soybean industry alliance” with Russia as it looks to ensure an ample supply of soybeans for the foreseeable future, according to the South China Morning Post.

During a videoconference on Aug. 26 with Russian Minister of Economic Development Maksim Tshetnikov, China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Chan called for closer cooperation with Russia in all areas of the soybean supply chain.

A statement from the Chinese Ministry called for the countries to “match up” their major soybean production areas and build an industry alliance.

Although Russia is not a major soybean producer, climate change is bringing more land into production in the country’s northern region, making an increase in output likely in years to come.

The proposal comes at a time when relations between China and the United States, for many years China’s top soybean supplier, have become increasingly strained.

The United States and Brazil currently supply about 90% of China’s soybean imports.

The alliance proposal comes after China and Russia, which currently accounts for less than 1% of China’s imports, signed a cooperation agreement on soybeans in 2019, with the intent to increase imports from Russia to at least 3.7 million tonnes by 2024, according to the South China Morning Post.

China is world’s biggest soybean consumer, averaging 110 million tonnes consumed each year, but its domestic production is only about 16 million tonnes annually.