Russian PM outlines extent of growing trade ties with China

Trade between Russia and China is growing at an unprecedented pace and could reach a record $200 billion this year, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said on Tuesday at a business forum in Shanghai.

According to the senior official, trade turnover between the two countries in January-March surged to around $52 billion, an increase of almost 25% compared to the same period last year. Mishustin praised efforts by Moscow and Beijing to take economic cooperation to new heights.

“China has been Russia’s main trade partner for more than ten years. And in the first three months of this year, our position [among China’s trade partners] has also changed – we moved up from tenth to seventh place,” he noted.

Mishustin added that bilateral trade had been bolstered by the mutual decision to conduct the majority of transactions in national currencies instead of the dollar. According to the premier, the US currency has become an unreliable means of payment for Russia amid sanctions related to the Ukraine conflict.

“While in 2021 only about a quarter of settlements between our countries were made in national currencies, last year it was almost two-thirds. We will continue to increase the independence of bilateral financial cooperation and thereby strengthen economic sovereignty,” the official pledged.

According to Mishustin, Russian farmers and other producers are ready to further increase exports to China, while both countries are working to provide opportunities for cross-border cooperation between businesses.

“The new conditions open up additional opportunities not only for expanding the presence of Chinese companies in Russia, but also for launching production facilities on the territory of China, including in free economic and special industrial zones,” he stated.

The prime minister stressed the importance of Russian and Chinese companies joining forces and sharing resources “to create competitive and affordable products that are needed by both industries and consumers.” According to the official, there are already about 80 joint projects with investments of more than $165 billion.

Mishustin also stated that in order to further boost trade, the two countries should focus on expanding transport routes, including air traffic, the Northern Sea Route, and pathways through Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

Mishustin is expected to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Qiang on Wednesday, to discuss further cooperation in energy, transport infrastructure, and agriculture.