Russian businesses ink more deals at CIIE, as close ties boost consumer demand
Published: Nov 10, 2022 12:21 AM
Russian businesmen showcase beer and other products at the 5th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai on November 9, 2022. Photo: Zhao Juecheng/GT

Russian businesmen showcase beer and other products at the 5th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai on November 9, 2022. Photo: Zhao Juecheng/GT

At the ongoing 5th China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai, more Chinese and Russia companies are engaging in two-way trade and investment, reflecting growing bilateral economic and trade cooperation between China and Russia. 

In 2023, there could be a "major uptake" in China-Russia trade and economic cooperation, one senior trade representative said on the sidelines of the CIIE, the world's biggest import fair.

A total of 29 Russian companies offering goods from cosmetics to jewelry have attended the 5th CIIE, according to a report from Russian news outlet Sputnik. Russian companies at the CIIE have so far signed contracts with Chinese buyers for $7.5 million worth of goods, doubling last year's sum even before the end of the trade fair, the report said, citing Russian trade promotion body RS Trade.

An official with the Russian Embassy said at a CIIE forum discussing the potential of agricultural trade between China and Russia as well as China and Belarus that Russia's farm exports have great potential and the country has the capacity to export 2-7.5 million tons of grain a year. 

For bilateral trade, Russia is willing to lift the level of exports of products that have already gained access in China such as corn, wheat and barley. In 2021, agricultural trade between China and Russia exceeded $5 billion, according to the official.

A representative with Russian beverage brand Baltika Breweries told the Global Times on Wednesday at the CIIE that the company highly values the fast-growing Chinese market.

"We expanded our product line here to offer some 50 categories of goods," said Alexander Presnyakov,

head of representative office in China of Baltika Breweries. "The Chinese market offers great potential but is also a highly competitive market. In Russia, consumers' taste is more uniform, whereas in China we face a very diversified market. The great level of China-Russia ties is also making Chinese consumers more willing to buy Russian goods."

According to the latest customs data, released on Monday, China-Russia bilateral trade surpassed $150 billion for the first time during the first 10 months of 2022. In yuan terms, trade surpassed 1 trillion yuan for the first time. The year-on-year growth rate, at 35 percent, topped all major trading partners of China.

As Western companies pulling out of Russia and US-led Western sanctions against Russia continuing to deepen, traders say major changes in the trade structure are taking place. 

Lin Qian, chief representative at the Russia-China Business Center (Russia) Shanghai Liaison Office, told the Global Times that her organization has been matching companies from the two countries to see where cooperation could have the best effect. It successfully promoted one large Chinese construction material company and another making electric tools to sell their products in Russia.

Those two companies alone could increase bilateral trade by more than $1 billion, contributing to the stated goal of making China-Russia trade surpass $200 billion by 2024.

Energy and raw materials still account for the majority of China-Russia trade at the moment, but things are changing, according to Lin.

A major Russian company in aquaculture is also considering expansion in the Chinese market after pulling out of the US and Japan, Lin said. Two logistics companies in Dalian and Shanghai are also interested. 

"Chinese consumers could also offer good prices for these Russian products, which are of the finest quality from waters near the Arctic," Lin said.

China has stated that normal trade and exchanges with Russia won't be subject to any foreign interference, despite Western sanctions against Russia.

Chinese Ministry of Commerce spokesperson Shu Jueting said in August that China will continue to promote normal trade and economic exchanges with Russia, jointly work to secure industrial and supply chain stability, and work on the digital economy, green economy and biopharmaceuticals as the new growth points in bilateral trade, improving the scale and quality of China-Russia trade.