Chinese and Russian companies signed up to 19 contracts worth some 2 billion U.S. dollars in the northwestern Russian economic hub on Sunday, adding a new impetus to bilateral trade and economic ties.
Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi, who is here for the 11th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum and activities related to the "Year of China" in Russia, and her Russian counterpart Alexander Zhukov were present at the signing ceremony.
The theme-year events, initiated by Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Vladimir Putin, have promoted understanding between the two peoples through cultural programs and stimulated trade and economic cooperation as well.
THEME YEARS BOOST TRADE
During their meetings on the sidelines of the Group of Eight (G8) summit on Friday, Hu and Putin hailed the reciprocal theme-year events and vowed to further boost bilateral ties.
Wu's tour to Russia is one of the 31 events scheduled for the ongoing "Year of China" in Russia. China hosted a similar event last year.
The other major economic and trade programs include a Chinese National Exhibition, the second China-Russia Economic and Trade Summit Forum and the fourth China-Russia Investment Promotion Conference.
Some 200 senior managers of more than 100 leading Chinese companies, such as China Petroleum & Chemical Cooperation, Chinese International Marine Containers, China Grain Company and China Construction Corporation, participated in the St. Petersburg forum, the largest ever Chinese trade delegation since 2005.
The other events will cover economic and trade related matters, energy, transportation, finance, information technology, post, agriculture, quality inspection, environmental protection and local cooperation.
With bilateral trade hitting record high, the two countries have made significant progress in cooperation in sectors such as energy, nuclear energy, high-tech and civil aviation.
To better facilitate the ongoing booming trade ties, China's state policy bank, the Export-Import Bank of China, unveiled its first representative office in the Russian city of St. Petersburg on Saturday.
"The establishment of the office meets the needs of bilateral trade and economic cooperation and will promote Chinese-Russian financial ties," said Li Ruogu, president of the bank.
CHINESE BUSINESS GRABBING RUSSIAN OPPORTUNITY
When the Chinese government is encouraging its businesses to seek larger opportunities abroad, Russia has become a popular destination for Chinese companies ranging from car-making to real estate and the agricultural sector.
During Wu's tour here, she visited a residential project undertaken by Chinese developers. the Baltic Pearl residential complex values 1.3 billion dollars and is recorded as China's largest non-energy investment project in Russia so far.
Developed by seven Shanghai-based companies, the real estate project will provide about 1 million square meters of housing and related services for up to 35,000 residents on completion in 2012.
China's leading telecom provider, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., also vowed to expand investment in Russia after its first decade of operations in the country.
"Ten years ago, we established joint ventures with Russian partners and entered the Russian market; now, we are planning to increase investment, extend products chain and provide better service to the 140 million Russian consumers," said Sun Yafang, chairwoman of the Huawei board of directors.
Chinese-brand cars such as Great Wall and Chery have also emerged on the streets of St. Petersburg as well as Moscow and and some Chinese car makers have established assembly lines in Russia.
China invested in 79 projects in Russia last year. The investment, excluding the financial sector, reached 470 million dollars, up 131.5 percent year on year, according to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce.
Chinese funds also flowed into sectors such as energy, mineral resources, forestry, trade, textiles, household electrical appliances, telecommunications, construction and services.