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Border Trade with Russia Gets Boost
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Heilongjiang Province plans to double its imports and exports with Russia in 2007 from the 2004 level in a bid to boost its trade and economic relations with the country.


In order to achieve this goal, the provincial government is targeting industries including energy, agriculture and technology.


Heilongjiang is expected to set up a long-term cooperation with Russia for the exploration of forest resources in a bid to realize the industrialization of wood, paper and paper pulp processing in China and Russia.


The province has also encouraged its enterprises to further their cooperation with Russia in the exploration of copper, iron, gold, coal, aluminium and rare metals. It hoped to take part in the discovering and utilization of crude oil and natural resources in Russia's Far East regions.


Heilongjiang is poised to accelerate reforms of Russia-oriented export bases as China's central government vows to upgrade old industrial bases in the province.


So far, the 13 cities in Heilongjiang have 96 Russia-oriented export bases. Half of them focus on processing exports toward Russia while the other half mainly export agricultural products.


The province will attach high importance to sectors such as textiles, construction materials, household electrical appliances and the information technology industry.


Agricultural bases involved in the production of corn, vegetables, fruit, meat, eggs and milk are expected to expand the influence of Heilongjiang brands. The government will give them full policy support and guidance.


In order to push science and technology cooperation with Russia, the provincial government will oversee more than 100 projects of this kind and help 10 percent of them to realize industrialization.


Strengthening cooperation in key and core technologies with Russia, Heilongjiang is expected to import technologies and skills from Russia.


Ye Xiaofeng, director of the province's department of commerce, said that strategic upgrading of economic and trade cooperation with Russia is one of the province's tasks to boost its foreign trade this year.


During this year's "Year of Russia in China," governors and mayors will meet for a week, and other activities such as the Sino-Russian High-tech Forum and Sino-Russian Enterprise Project Talks in Heilongjiang will be held.


To boost trade with Russia, Heilongjiang will optimize the infrastructure of its ports such as Suifenhe, Heihe, Dongning and Tongjiang. It will also focus on the investment and construction of medium- and small-sized ports.




Heilongjiang, which shares a 3,000-kilometre-long border with Russia, has a massive advantage in imports and exports with the country.


There are 25 national ports along the border of Heilongjiang Province, which offers a convenient gateway to Russia and other Eastern European countries.


More importantly, the province also has some favorable policies for trade with Russia.


For example, banks from China and Russia have launched pilots for foreign trade settlement. Payment for exports to Russia can arrive at domestic ports in just one day.


Heilongjiang realized accumulated imports and exports of US$27.78 billion with Russia from 1990 to 2005. In 2005, trade volume between Heilongjiang and Russia reached US$5.68 billion, up nearly 50 percent from a year ago. The figure accounted for around one-fifth of China's total trade with its neighbouring country.


This year is also expected to see significant jumps in Heilongjiang's trade exchanges with Russia. Trade volume hit US$4.8 billion in the first nine months of the year.


Now, Heilongjiang mainly exports light industrial and agricultural products and machinery to Russia and imports primary products, like energy and raw materials, from Russia.


Small- and medium-sized privately owned enterprises are now the top exporters and importers with Russia.


In recent years, cooperation between Heilongjiang and Russia has been broadened from agriculture, construction and wood processing to joint investment and technology imports.


In the first three quarters this year, turnover from economic and technology cooperation deals between the province and Russia hit US$150 million, up 57 percent from a year ago; Heilongjiang businesspeople established 31 enterprises in Russia in this period, with investment totalling US$500 million, 260 percent higher year-on-year.


Heilongjiang has primarily formed a science and technology cooperation regime with Russia, including the Sino-Russian Friendship Science and Technology Park and International Science City in Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang Province. There are also Sino-Russia cooperation centres for science and technology cooperation, agricultural technology and industrial technology.


(China Daily November 6, 2006)


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