Economic ties now include investment

Updated: 2013-03-22 23:31

By BAO CHANG (China Daily)

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Sino-Russian economic cooperation is expected to reach a new level as Chinese companies accelerate their investments in the Russian market, while diversifying bilateral economic ties, which used to be trade-oriented, experts say.

"Cooperation in terms of investment between China and Russia has developed at a fast pace in recent years," Shen Danyang, spokesman for the Ministry of Commerce, said on Tuesday at the ministry's news conference. "In 2012, China's investment in Russia soared 116.2 percent to $656 million."

Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the ministry's International Trade and Economic Cooperation Institute, said that investment cooperation represents a small proportion of the economic cooperation between China and Russia, which is still dominated by trade. But growth has been very fast and conditions will improve as more Chinese companies tap the Russian market, where it's becoming easier to invest.

Among the planned investments, Chinese State-owned company Changan Automobile Co said it will set up an automotive components plant jointly with Russian automakers at the end of the year.

"It will be a big progress for our overseas expansion strategy this year," said Zhang Baolin, chairman of the Chongqing-based company.

With a population of about 143 million people, Russia has a huge consumer market, and as the economy is developing quickly, the purchasing power of Russian consumers is on the rise. The annual auto output in Russia is around 1.2 million and the market demand for vehicles every year is at 1.7 million.

A report from the consulting arm of China Investment Corp said that there are big investment opportunities for Chinese companies in Russia.

One lies in the infrastructure sector. During last year's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the country announced a $6 billion infrastructure program to build bridges and railways.

Also, Russia's Far East development program is expected to spur economic development in China's northeastern traditional industrial base and boost bilateral investment.

"China and Russia have huge cooperation potential in areas including mechanical products, automobiles and components, construction materials, telecommunications, agriculture and household electrical appliances," said Song Kui, a researcher at the Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Sciences.

In addition, the 2014 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Sochi and the improvement of people's living standards provide business opportunities for Chinese investors to enter the construction materials sector with products such as cement, decoration materials and furniture, the CIC report said.

But bigger bilateral projects are also being developed.

"A series of large-scale bilateral cooperation projects including a Sino-Russian crude oil pipeline, the Tianwan nuclear power station and the research and development of heavy-duty helicopters have promoted the sustainable development of economic and trade ties between China and Russia," said Shen from the Ministry of Commerce.