China-Russia trade up 28.9% in Jan-May; further growth expected
Published: Jun 09, 2022 10:02 PM
The photo taken on February 23, 2020 shows the Guangzhou Nansha Port. Photo: VCG

The photo taken on February 23, 2020 shows the Guangzhou Nansha Port. Photo: VCG

China's trade with Russia saw faster growth in the first five months of 2022, according to Chinese customs data on Thursday, as Russia accelerated the shift of its supply chain to Asia amid US-led Western economic sanctions.

Experts expect that China-Russia trade could surpass $150 billion this year, as both sides aim to expand their economic and trade cooperation in the spirit of mutual benefit.

According to data released by China's General Administration of Customs, China-Russia bilateral trade stood at $65.81 billion in the first five months, up 28.9 percent on a yearly basis. The growth rate accelerated from 25.9 percent seen in the January-April period.

In the first five months, China's imports from Russia in US dollar terms grew 46.5 percent from a year earlier, accelerating from 37.8 percent in the first four months. But export growth fell from 11.3 percent in the first four months to 7.2 percent.

Experts noted that the trade growth comes as Russia accelerates the shift of its economic pivot to Asia amid escalating sanctions from the West.

Russia's "turn to the East" has been underway for around a decade and accelerated due to the Western sanctions, Li Xin, director of the Institute for Eurasian Studies at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Faced with Western sanctions, Russia has turned to the Asia-Pacific region, in this process, China might be its main target due to China's massive market, Li said, noting that the products traded between China and Russia have become increasingly diverse and complementary.

Russia is the world's largest oil exporter, while China is quite advanced in terms of mechanical and electrical products with outstanding manufacturing strength. 

In 2021, Russia remained China's top source of energy imports, which totaled 334.3 billion yuan ($50 billion), an increase of 47.4 percent, accounting for 65.3 percent of China's total imports from Russia.

Trade of mechanical and electrical products totaled $43.4 billion in 2021, rising by 40.7 percent year-on-year, with China's automobiles, auto parts and mobile phones being popular among Russian consumers.

In recent years, China-Russia trade has been expanding from energy and raw material imports to other food and agricultural products like grain, soybeans, wheat and dairy items, Li said.

Data showed that China's mine product imports from Russia hit $24.14 billion from January to April, while meat imports hit $147.95 million.

China-Russia trade will show a relatively large increase despite the Ukraine crisis and COVID-19 outbreaks this year, boosted by the complementary needs of the economies, experts said.

Li predicted that China-Russia trade will maintain robust growth this year and could surge above $150 billion. In 2021, bilateral trade stood at $146.87 billion, a record high.

China has been Russia's top trading partner for 12 consecutive years and the two nations have set a goal of reaching $200 billion in trade by 2024. 

China's Foreign Ministry has reiterated that China will continue to conduct normal trade cooperation with Russia, while remaining firmly opposed to unilateral sanctions that have no basis in international law. 

"Reality has shown that sanctions are not the right solution to the Ukraine crisis. The massive, indiscriminate sanctions imposed by a few countries on Russia have not helped the situation deescalate at all. On the contrary, Europe and the world have paid a heavy price for these sanctions," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told a regular briefing on Monday.