Moscow and Beijing have eliminated all the barriers that can impede their fast-developing cooperation, China’s new ambassador in Moscow said, announcing the timeline to reach the ambitious goal of doubling current trade volume.
“By 2024 we will reach trade turnover of $200 billion. I think this goal is achievable because from now on trade and economic cooperation is rapidly developing,” Zhang Hanhui told journalists on Wednesday.
The figure was announced earlier by Russian Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin, but he did not elaborate on when the current level of $108 billion will be doubled. In the first seven months of this year, the volume of trade between the two countries has already jumped almost 5 percent, Chinese customs data shows.
Beijing considers Moscow as a trusted partner and is opening its markets more and more to Russian products, according to the diplomat. While Beijing is embroiled in an escalating trade war with Washington and is cutting imports from the US, especially on agricultural products, it needs new suppliers and eyes Russia as a good replacement.
“We will choose a new supplier. And Russia is the most reliable one,” Zhang said.
Apart from goods, China is interested in boosting imports of Russian gas, the envoy noted. Russian gas supplies to China are behind Qatar, Australia, and some Central Asian states, but the vast Chinese market has “huge potential” for Moscow, according to Zhang.
In 2014, the two sides inked a gas deal which laid the foundations for the construction of the Power of Siberia pipeline. The project, with annual export capacity of 38 billion cubic meters, is set to become operational on December 1.
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