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Experts call for boosting Sino-Russian regional cooperation


20:57, June 17, 2013

HARBIN, June 17 (Xinhua) -- Chinese experts have called for strengthening regional economic cooperation between China and Russia, as bilateral trade saw a slight drop in the first five months of the year.

The participation of Chinese enterprises in the development of Russia's Far Eastern federal district can help boost bilateral economic cooperation, according to Li Yongquan, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS).

Xing Guangcheng, another CASS expert, said north China provinces that neighbor Russia, such as Heilongjiang and the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, should attract more domestic enterprises that are eyeing the Russian market.

According to customs statistics, bilateral trade fell 2.6 percent year on year from January to May, with Chinese imports from Russia dropping 15.2 percent.

Both sides believe the fall is temporary and that a target of 100 billion U.S. dollars in bilateral trade will be reached in 2015.

China is currently Russia's largest trading partner, with trade volume between the two countries reaching 88.16 billion U.S. dollars in 2012.p "Following its accession to the WTO in August last year, Russia will gradually lower its average tariffs, improve its investment environment and further open up its market," said Zou Xiuting, an associate researcher of Russian studies at the Heilongjiang Academy of Social Sciences.

"But other countries will also try to tap into markets in Russia's Siberian and Far Eastern districts," Zou said.

According to Russian data, the Republic of Korea surpassed China to rank first in terms of foreign trade with Russia's Far Eastern Federal District in 2012.

The U.S. rebalancing of its strategic priorities to the Asia-Pacific region and tension on the Korean Peninsula have also highlighted the necessity and urgency for strengthening bilateral regional cooperation, experts said.

At the ongoing 24th China Harbin International Economic and Trade Fair, which opened Friday night at the capital city of Heilongjiang, Russia brought 82 investment projects in the areas of agriculture, infrastructure construction, mining and machinery manufacturing.

During a Saturday conversation with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, President Xi Jinping said high-level exchanges between Russia and China are becoming more frequent and cooperation between the two nations in the fields of investment, energy, culture, law enforcement and security has gained positive headway.

Xi paid a state visit to Russia in March, marking his first out-of-country visit since becoming president.

Both Xi and Putin agreed that the time and conditions are ripe for the two sides to carry out large-scale economic cooperation.

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