China-Russia trade volume is expected to exceed US$40 billion this year, State councilor Tang Jiaxuan said over the weekend.
Addressing the 18th China Harbin Fair for Trade and Economic Cooperation, Tang said the good political relationship between the two countries will spur economic and trade exchanges to a new high this year.
Trade between the two countries developed briskly during the past decade, with volumes soaring from US$6.83 billion in 1996 to US$33.4 billion in 2006.
And the figure for the first four months this year has already reached US$12.5 billion, Tang noted.
"It is estimated that it will exceed US$40 billion this year," he told about 300 representatives from both countries at the opening ceremony of the fair's "Russian Business Day".
China is currently Russia's fourth largest trade partner while Russia is China's eighth largest.
China's direct investment in Russia has reached US$940 million while Russia's direct investment in the country totals US$610 million, Tang added.
He said that the two countries have launched a series of cooperation programs in the fields of energy, aviation and construction. China and Russia have set a strategic goal of realizing bilateral trade volume of US$60-80 billion by 2010.
Tang said that opportunities abound as both countries are developing very fast due to a string of effective revitalization plans.
"Russia is mapping out a plan for the development of its Far East region, and China is actively pushing forward the revitalization of its northeast," he said.
He also said the two countries should work harder to restructure trade to upgrade economic and technological cooperation.
Light industry products like textiles, clothes, shoes and home appliances account for the majority of China's exports to Russia, while Russia's exports to China mainly focus on raw materials such as crude oil, logs and steel.
Tang said that both countries should strengthen cooperation in the hi-tech field by importing more electronic products.
The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation in China Sergey Razov said: "The strategic relationship between China and Russia is reaching an unprecedented level and economic and trade exchanges are more and more mature with the fields of cooperation expanding very fast."
He said that the Russian Business Day is an important event of the 18th China Harbin Fair for Trade and Economic Cooperation.
Razov said the fair is not only a trade platform for businesspeople from both countries, but also a stage for investment and production cooperation.
The Russian Business Day wrapped up on Saturday with 21 projects worth more than US$1.5 billion inked between the two countries.
Liu Xueliang, vice-governor of Heilongjiang Province, which shares more than a 3,000-km border with Russia, said that much potential remains to be unleashed in China-Russia trade.
"The current trade volume still lags far behind and fails to match the economic and technological standards of both countries," he said.
China-Russia trade volume is only about a sixth of that between China and the United States; and a quarter of that between China and the Republic of Korea, he said.
Liu said that one of the most important reasons is the lack of large-scale projects between the two countries.
Also over the weekend, Valery Solomonovich Gurevich, vice-chairman of the Government of Jewish Autonomous Region of Russia, said that China and Russia will start the construction of the first railway bridge over the Heilong River (called Amur in Russia) - the border river - at the end of this year.
The bridge will be built from Nizhneleninskoye of the Region to Tongjiang, in Heilongjiang Province. The 2,197-meter-long bridge, with an estimated investment of nearly 6 billion rubles, (US$230 million), is expected to be finished by the end of 2010, Gurevich said.
(China Daily June 18, 2007)