The current year is expected to result in a breakthrough in Russia-China trade cooperation, according to Zhang Xiao, Charge d’affaires at the Chinese embassy in Russia.
In an exclusive interview with Sputnik China, the diplomat commented on the results of 2016 for trade ties between Moscow and Beijing. "After a downturn in 2015 due to external factors, Russia-China trade returned to growth in 2016. Over the course of 2016, turnover between Russia and China reached 69.5 billion, a 2.2-percent increase against the previous year," Zhang Xiao said.
According to him, despite the fact that an increase of 2.2 percent is not significant, it is very important that it was reached amid unfavorable conditions in the global economy and a decrease in China’s foreign trade volume.
China has remained Russia’s biggest foreign trade partner throughout the last six years.
For the coming years, China expects a target GDP growth of 6.5 percent a year.
"A relatively high economic growth rate plus advantages of the One Belt One Road initiative create favorable preconditions for further development of Russia-China economic cooperation. I have reason to suppose that 2017 will be breakthrough for our countries," the Chinese diplomat pointed out.
According to the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, trade turnover between China and Russia in January-February increased by 37.1 percent, compared to the same period a year ago. China’s trade with other partners increased at a lower rate. For example, China-US trade in January-February grew 18.9 percent and turnover between Beijing and the European Union grew by 15 percent. Investment cooperation is also on the rise between Russia and China. The Russia-Chinese investment portfolio currently contains nearly 60 major projects. They range from the construction of the Power of Siberia gas pipeline and a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility on the Yamal peninsula to developing a wide-body passenger airliner to rival Airbus and Boeing planes.
The two countries have also been working on improving transport and postal service links as well as looking into ways of integrating various regional economic initiatives. In June, the sides agreed to start formal talks on coupling the Russia-led Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and China's Eurasian One Belt, One Road megaproject.
In 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed the construction of a new Silk Road, comprising the land-based Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) and Maritime Silk Road, to facilitate the direct flow of goods from the Pacific Ocean to the Baltic Sea. The project is intended to connect China with Europe and strengthen economic ties between Asia, Europe and the Gulf states. On May 14-15, Beijing will host an international high-level forum devoted to the New Silk Road initiative. Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to take part in the summit.