Although the China-Russia trade and economic cooperation was affected by the global financial crisis and economic downturn in the short term, expectations for its future development remain high, a Chinese diplomat in Russia told Xinhua recently.
Gao Xiyun, Economic Minister Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Russia, said that due to the shrinking demand amid the global financial crisis, the bilateral trade volume between China and Russia in the first nine months of the year declined 34.8 percent as compared with the same period last year.
The annual trade volume is expected to go down from 56.8 billion dollars to 40 billion dollars, he added.
One major cause of the decline was the falling commodity prices, he said, especially those of the resource products such as crude oil. The Chinese side has paid particular attention to the restructuring of China-Russia trade architecture, and has taken a series of measures in this regard, said Gao.
Since Russia relies heavily on the export of resource products, and the percentage of exported products with high added value is relatively low, the Russian side needs to increase input into its domestic economic system, and raise competitiveness of its mechanics and electronics products on the international market, suggested Gao.
Gao also noted that China and Russia have taken joint measures in dealing with the crisis and have seized new opportunities to expand economic and trade cooperation. Currently both sides are continuously deepening collaboration on energy, finance, trade and investment, he said.
During the visit of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to Russia last year and the visit of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to China this year, he said, the two countries have signed major cooperative agreements on oil and gas.
Meanwhile, China and Russia have also enhanced their cooperation in other energy sectors such as nuclear energy and electric power, all of which are conducive to consolidating trade relations and expanding economic and technological cooperation, said Gao.
The counselor also noted that China and Russia have tried out trade settlement with Yuan and Ruble in border areas in recent years, and currently the two sides are discussing the gradual expansion of trade settlement in domestic currency.
On the recent establishment of a sub-committee on customs cooperation within the framework of the committee of the regular meetings between the Chinese premier and Russian prime minister, Gao said it was of great significance for both sides to standardize trade order and crack down on the so-called "gray customs clearance."
Projects of customs cooperation, including exchange of information, have been formally put on the agenda, he added.
Commenting on the proposals of some Chinese merchants in Russia to invest and set up trade centers here, Gao said the idea would turn out to be beneficial to raising the credibility of Chinese products in the Russian market, if such trade centers could be operated with regular procedures and with their own brand strategies.
If such trade centers would only repeat the irregular operations as seen in the recently closed Cherkizovsky Market, then the idea would be detrimental to the China-Russian trade, he said.
Gao also urged both sides to enhance mutual trust in investment cooperation, while guaranteeing the security of investment system.