MOSCOW: Chinese-Russian trade cooperation has great prospects despite contracted volume in 2015, said Zhang Di, economic and commercial minister counselor at the Chinese Embassy in Moscow.
Trade volume decreased by 27.8 percent in 2015 year on year, according to China’s General Administration of Customs. Zhang called it a temporary phenomenon, and by no means indicates that bilateral economic and trade cooperation had “sunk.”
He also noted that trade between China and Russia should be assessed comprehensively, not simply by a change in volume. Looking at the types of imports, one finds that the commodities China has imported from Russia, primarily oil and minerals, have not decreased much.
China imported 40 billion tons of oil from Russia in 2015, Zhang said, maintaining 2014 levels, but falling oil prices cut the value of the sales. The volume of imports of ore and other raw materials were also basically flat.
The minister counselor hailed the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries in 2015, calling it one of the most notable areas of the bilateral relationship.
China is Russia’s largest trading partner with its share of Russia’s overall trade having increased to 12 percent in 2015 from 11.3 percent in 2014.
“Thanks to efforts on both sides, a number of aspects in the bilateral relationship will continue to grow,” Zhang said.
He added that the deterioration of Russia’s economic situation has affected bilateral trade amid anti-Russian Western sanctions and Moscow’s retaliatory restrictions.
With the price of oil down and slower global growth, Russia’s ruble has depreciated by 72.2 percent against the US dollar from March 2014 to December 2015.
Zhang also refuted allegations that it was the slowdown of the Chinese economy that somehow caused difficulties in the Russian economy.
Russia had multiple internal economic problems that needed to be addressed, so did China, Zhang said, adding that he was convinced problems would be solved as both governments were taking active measures.
Commenting on the previously-announced target of achieving a bilateral trade volume of $200 billion in 2020, Zhang said both sides are working toward that goal despite the current challenges.
The process could also be accelerated by changes in international affairs as well as internal and external conditions affecting both countries, Zhang said.