In the bilateral events of the ongoing "Year of China" in Russia and the past "Year of Russia" in China, the promotion of bilateral economic and trade ties and cooperation in their investment field constitute part of the events' substantial content. In his interview on March 20 with Russian media reporters ahead of a visit to their country, President Hu Jintao underscored that China, in its due part to spur the all-round growth of bilateral relations, was ready to boost its pragmatic bilateral cooperation with Russia in the bilateral economic and trade relations, energy, and science and technology under the guideline of mutual benefit and win-win outcome.
Full 10 years have elapsed ever since China and Russia forged their strategic partnership of cooperation, and it was a decade of noticeable growth in the bilateral economic and trade cooperation. The economic and trade development represents a vital, important material basis for the bilateral relationships of mutual political trust formed between the two nations as well as a hallmark curve to mark the entry of Sino-Russian good-neighborliness and cooperation into a still higher phase.
Reviewing a decade of achievements in the Sino-Russian economic relations and trade, anyone is not hard to witness that a bright perspective has been attained when both sides have surmounted temporary twists and turns. When President Boris N. Yeltsin proposed establishing the Russia-China strategic partnership of cooperation back in 1996, the bilateral trade volume then was merely 6.83 billion US dollars and, owing to a punch resultant from the ensuing financial crises of Southeast Asia, it further dropped to 5.48 billion dollars in 1998. Afterwards, the cooperation level of the economic and trade ties between the two neighbors apparently uplifted along with the expansion of bilateral political relations. Especially with the signing of the Sino-Russia Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation in 2001, the bilateral mutual benefit and cooperation had a legal basis. The bilateral trade volume in the same year topped the 10 billion dollar mark to reach 10.67 billion dollars. With the bottom-out of the ebbing bilateral economic and trade relations, it only took a three-years' time to outstrip the 20-billion dollar mark. And amid an accelerated growth trend in Sino-Russia economic ties and trade over the past two years, the trade volume of the two countries reached 29.1 billion dollars in 2005 and proceeded to hit 33.4 billion dollars last year. As compared to a full decade ago, the bilateral trade volume has shot up approximately six-fold during the 10-year period.
At present, an imbalance in trade mix of either nation poses a salient factor holding back the benign growth of the economic cooperation between the two nations. This is manifested mainly in a drastic backslide in the transactions of machinery and electric products. Russia's machinery and electric products export dropped drastically particularly in the post-2001 years, ebbing to 202 million dollars in 2006. This phenomenon has negatively effected the healthy, sound growth of Sino-Russian trade and, consequently, it draws high attention from leaders of both nations and their relevant government departments.
On the sideline of his participation in events of the "Year of Russia" in China last year, President Vladimir Putin told senior officials and entrepreneurs of both nations at a summit forum for personalities in Chinese and Russian economic and trade circles that a matter of urgency in bilateral economic cooperation was to tackle the issue of imbalance in trade mix of both countries. The Russian government has, however, planned to reverse the unevenness of the national industrial structure step by step and to strive to change the whole structure of its external trade.
With a pivot wrought by the sustained, fast growth of Chinese and Russian economies, some Chinese firms, nevertheless, have increasingly given keen attention to Russia's related industrial sectors involving household electrical appliances, car parts assembly, and infrastructure facilities and special economic zone development. Furthermore, banking sectors of both nations have also begun to invest in regional economic development in Russia.
On Monday, visiting President Hu Jintao and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin issued a joint statement, noting particularly that there still existed a huge potential for cooperative production in the machinery and electric products trade and the high-tech realm and that both sides should go on taking coordinated, directional measures to further raise the quality and levels of bilateral economic and trade ties.
Economic and trade insiders here are convinced that leaders and relevant government departments of both nations would have candid consultations with an ample wisdom to tide over difficulties in the the course of expanding bilateral ties, so that Sino-Russian trade volume is bound to accomplish the initial objective of 60 billion to 80 billion dollars by the year 2010.
By People's Daily Online and its author Xu Tao, a noted researcher and director of the Office of Russian Studies under the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations