Trade partners working together across various sectors of industry
China-Russia bilateral trade is expected to experience high-speed growth in the coming years, as both countries are actively reinforcing business ties in cross-border e-commerce, green low-carbon businesses, biomedicine and other emerging fields, said commerce officials and experts.
They made the remarks as the total trade turnover between China and Russia, two of the world's major countries, soared 35.8 percent on a yearly basis to $146.9 billion in 2021, exceeding the threshold of $140 million for the first time, the Ministry of Commerce announced in mid-January.
China has been Russia's top trading partner for 12 consecutive years, said Gao Feng, the ministry's spokesman, adding that both sides have been consolidating the trade of bulk commodities including energy, minerals, agriculture and forestry, and expanding new growth points in the digital economy and biomedicine, as well as cross-border e-commerce and trade in services.
Metals, crude oil, natural gas, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and agricultural and chemical products are Russia's main shipments to China.
China exports mainly construction machinery, manufacturing equipment, steel, electronics, textiles, garments and household appliances to Russia.
Chinese-made passenger vehicles have also become popular in Russia in recent years, according to information released by China's General Administration of Customs.
Despite the pandemic, all-around practical cooperation between China and Russia has continued to flourish.
Major projects have played a key role in energizing the overall cooperation conducted by the two countries, said Gao.
For example, construction began on the No 7 and No 8 units of the Tianwan nuclear power plant in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, and the No 3 and No 4 units of the Xudapu nuclear power plant in Huludao, Liaoning province, in the second half of last year.
Apart from putting more bridges and roads into use in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province last year, the official said that cooperation has also been progressing between China and Russia in major strategic projects in fields such as energy, aviation and aerospace.
The two nations are in active negotiations in an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in constructing an international lunar research station.
Confronting a torrent of global challenges including a pandemic of epic proportions and resurgent protectionism and hegemonism, China and Russia have been holding hands even tighter to enrich their business ties, jointly more growth impetus to the world's economic recovery and shore up multilateralism and free trade, said Wei Jianguo, vice-chairman of Beijing-based China Center for International Economic Exchanges.
It is also worth noting that the value of newly signed engineering contracts by China in Russia has exceeded $5 billion for three consecutive years, and the completed turnover reached a record to $5.6 billion in 2021, data from the Ministry of Commerce showed.
"The partnership between the two nations in the fields of energy and minerals, agriculture and forestry development, trade and logistics and industrial manufacturing has been solidly boosted, and their industrial chains have been continuously extended," said Wei.
For China, Russia is the second-largest source of oil imports. China is Russia's top trading partner and a key source of investment in its energy projects, including the Yamal liquefied natural gas plant in the Arctic Circle and the Power of Siberia pipeline at $55 billion, the biggest gas project in Russia.
The China-Russia trading structure has improved and new business forms are booming, said Chen Chao, deputy director-general of the Department of International Trade and Economic Affairs at the Ministry of Commerce.
He said that cross-border e-commerce cooperation between the two countries has developed rapidly, with the construction of warehouses and e-commerce platforms in Russia making steady progress to contribute to the sustained growth of bilateral trade.
Ma Yu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing, predicted that China will continue to work closely with Russia to consolidate the trade of bulk commodities such as energy, minerals, agriculture and forestry, and expand new growth points in the digital economy, biomedicine, as well as cross-border e-commerce and services trade.
"Because most import between China and Russia are complementary. Therefore, it isn't direct competition," he said.
As the world is undergoing profound changes rarely seen in a century, a stable China-Russia relationship that has emerged from all kinds of tests with new vigor is needed.
Ma noted that it is natural for the two countries to continue to roll out new measures to optimize trade structure and cultivate new drivers for trade growth, so that the momentum can be maintained.
To build sustainable business ties with Russia, China's Ministry of Commerce and its Russian counterpart have joined forces to complete a roadmap on high-quality development in goods and services trade, signed a memorandum on investment cooperation in the digital economy, and are looking into the feasibility of updating their bilateral investment treaty, which took effect in 2009, to provide better institutional support for the two nations' investment cooperation, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.
The two sides have signed a memorandum on multilateral and regional economic cooperation, enhanced coordination and cooperation within multilateral frameworks such as the World Trade Organization, BRICS, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, and actively promoted the cooperation between the Belt and Road Initiative and the growth of the Eurasian Economic Union. BRICS is an acronym for the five major emerging countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, which together represent about 42 percent of the global population, 24 percent of global GDP, 18 percent of global trade and 25 percent of the world's foreign investment on an annual basis, data from Beijing-headquartered China Council for the Promotion of International Trade showed.
"Chinese investors have strong experience of building various large-scale infrastructure projects in Africa, South America and the Middle East, and it is the time for them to secure more cross-border infrastructure projects that unite Russia's Far East and Northeast China," said Ren Hongpeng, vice-president of China Railway Group, a Beijing-headquartered State-owned construction contractor.
He said large-scale infrastructure projects－including energy and resource exploration, manufacturing, aviation, nuclear power and shipbuilding－offer great potential due to long-term and strategic significance to Chinese companies, which are keen to expand their presence through both the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Silk Road Economic Belt.
The two neighbors have also accelerated their pace and efforts to set up an independent trade network.
According to Russian Presidential Aide Yury Ushakov, the two nations have paid special attention to speeding up the formation of an independent financial infrastructure for servicing trading operations between Russia and China.
The two countries also welcomed a growth in the number of deals settled in the yuan and the rouble as well as efforts to improve access to stock markets for investors from both countries, Ushakov said.
The yuan accounted for more than 17 percent of bilateral trade settlements between the two countries and more than 12 percent of Russia's international reserves in 2020, according to Russia's central bank.