China’s exports to Russia jump 153.1% in April, data shows
Published: May 09, 2023 10:40 PM
A view of the scenery along the Moskva River in Moscow, Russia Photo: VCG

A view of the scenery along the Moskva River in Moscow, Russia Photo: VCG

Bilateral trade between China and Russia stood at $73.15 billion in the first four months of 2023, surging 41.3 percent year-on-year, according to data unveiled by the General Administration of Customs on Tuesday.

The expansion was partly fueled by closer bilateral cooperation in the energy sector, as well as China's surging exports of mechanical and electrical products to Russia amid Western unilateral sanctions on the latter, observers said. 

Notably, China's exports to Russia expanded 153.1 percent year-on-year in April, according to the Global Times' calculation. The export growth rate posted triple-digit growth for the second consecutive month, according to a report by domestic news portal on Tuesday.

The data also underscored the scope and potential for bilateral economic relations to deepen further, which analysts said could give a boost to the goal of crossing the $200 billion mark in bilateral trade ahead of schedule. 

China's exports to Russia were up 67.2 percent to $33.69 billion in the first four months, while imports from Russia grew by 24.8 percent to $39.46 billion, extending the rapid growth trend in the first quarter of 2023.

Zhang Hong, an associate research fellow at the Institute of Russian, Eastern European and Central Asian Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Tuesday that the momentum is underpinned by stable and sound China-Russia relations. 

He said that the fast pace of growth also reflected higher prices of energy and commodities over the past year.

"Due to geopolitics, Russia is channeling energy exports to the Asia-Pacific area, where demand is booming, so it is possible that China-Russia trade will expand further," he said. 

As global energy prices may go down in the latter part of 2023, China and Russia are likely to start more large-scale cooperation in the energy sector such as the China-Russia natural gas pipeline and co-exploration in the Russian Far East to take bilateral cooperation to a new level, said Zhang.

Such energy trade is also lifted by acceleration in local currency settlement. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak said in interview with Russian media in April that energy trading between China and Russia had been settled in both the yuan and the ruble, and Moscow intends to abandon the use of the US dollar and the euro in energy transactions. 

With energy cooperation taking up a major part of China-Russia commodity trade, the acceleration of local currency settlements and the rise of other commodities such as farm products, crossing the $200 billion bilateral trade goal is foreseeable, said Zhang. 

China-produced mechanical and electrical goods have become a rising major export category to Russia, where they replace Western products that are limited by the latter's unilateral sanctions.  

As of December 2022, China-produced electric appliances had a 90 percent market share in Russia, Russian media outlets reported in December. 

In the first quarter of 2023, Chinese smartphones took up over 70 percent of the Russian market, Reuters reported, citing consumer electronics retailer M.Video-Eldorado, up from about 50 percent last year.

"Russia is also restructuring its domestic industry chain to produce products to dilute the impact of Western sanctions, which in turn further lifted its demand for equipment from China," said Zhang. 

Global Times