China, Russia eye trade boom, expected to achieve $200b trade target ahead of schedule
Cooperation under BRICS, SCO to be expanded
Published: Mar 22, 2023 12:15 AM
The national flags of China and Russia are seen on Red Square, Moscow. Photo: Xinhua

The national flags of China and Russia are seen on Red Square, Moscow. Photo: Xinhua

China and Russia are expected to achieve targeted annual trade of $200 billion ahead of schedule and continue to see a boom in trade in the years ahead as the two countries are stepping up efforts to enhance business cooperation in various fields ranging from commodity trade to regional connectivity and other emerging fields, observers and industry players said amid the ongoing state visit of the Chinese top leader to Russia.

President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday signed a joint statement on the plan for the development of key areas of China-Russia economic cooperation up to 2030. 

Xi said China is ready to expand cooperation with Russia in trade, investment, supply chain, mega projects, energy and hi-tech areas when he met with Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on Tuesday.

Xi said that he has invited Russian President Vladimir Putin to travel to China for the third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation this year.

He noted that Putin attended both of the previous two Belt and Road forums, saying that the Belt and Road cooperation is important in connecting the two countries.

In 2022, bilateral trade hit a record high of $190.27 billion, an increase of 116 percent over 2012. In 2019, China and Russia jointly set the goal of their bilateral trade reaching $200 billion by 2024. The bilateral trade is expected to exceed $200 billion this year, experts believed. 

Zhou Liqun, president of the Union of Chinese Entrepreneurs in Russia, told the Global Times on Tuesday that in recent years, China-Russia economic and trade cooperation withstood the impact of external uncertainties and the epidemic, showing strong resilience. 

Exchanges between the two heads of state are like a "compass" for bilateral ties, Zhou said, hoping that the visit will fully unleash the huge potential of practical trade cooperation. 

Chinese-funded enterprises in Russia are full of confidence in the broad prospects of bilateral economic and trade cooperation, Zhou said.

The past years have witnessed booming cooperation in trade, with energy acting as a solid "ballast stone." 

Chinese customs data showed on Monday that Russia became China's top oil supplier in January and February, shipping about 15.68 million tons of crude oil to the world's second-largest economy.

On Monday, Gazprom set a new record for daily natural gas deliveries to China via the Power of Siberia pipeline, according to a TASS report.

The quantity of goods waiting to be delivered to Russia from China is huge, a manager surnamed Yu at a Yiwu-based logistics company, focusing on China's trade with Belarus and Russia, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

The company expanded its warehouse in Yiwu, East China's Zhejiang Province, to 10,000 square meters as the old warehouse was out of space. Yu said that the new warehouse is basically filling up with goods.

"We send about seven China-Europe freight trains every month, with each train carrying about 55 standard containers. It takes about 35 days to arrive in Moscow," said Yu.

In addition to the fast expansion in volume, the trade structure has been continuously optimized and expanded. 

The scope of China's economic and trade investment in Russia, which used to be mainly energy and agriculture, is expanding. Investment in Russia has begun to shift to automobiles, home appliances and food processing, Jia Zhongzheng, a research fellow at the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Russia's light manufacturing industry is relatively weak, and there are now more than 1,000 Chinese companies setting up factories in Russia, Jia said.

By the end of 2022, the number of automobile dealers of Chinese brands in Russia had climbed to 1,041. Meanwhile, quality Russian products like chocolate, ice cream, honey, flour and alcohol have become more widely available for Chinese customers, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

There will be more cooperation in emerging industries, such as manufacturing, education, culture, the arts and science, Bao Jianyun, director of the Center for International Political Economy Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"Further bilateral cooperation could expand in the field of third-party services, especially under the frameworks of the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation," said Bao.

Bao noted that increasing bilateral trade will enhance cooperation in the financial and monetary fields, such as jointly promoting the construction of digital currencies.

In the first two months of this year, trade between China and Russia surged by 36.4 percent and hit 232.5 billion yuan ($33.59 billion), Chinese customs data showed.