Russia and China eye to increase the bilateral trade turnover to $200 billion by 2024 amid rising tensions with the West.
A relevant road map was approved following a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on Friday ahead of the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Although the two countries set the goal to increase the bilateral trade turnover to $200 billion back on June 5, 2019, a series of economic sanctions imposed by Washington both on Russia and China halted the process.
However, tensions with the West arguably helped both countries to grow closer and further a plan to ditch American greenbacks in pursuit of doing business in their national currencies. Using national currencies became a long-term priority for Russia, which had been hit repeatedly with sanctions by the United States and the European Union since 2014, primarily due to the crisis in Ukraine.
China is considered Russia’s biggest trade partner, as trade between the two countries totaled more than $146 billion by the end of 2020, demonstrating a 35.8 percent rise compared to previous year, according to recent data from China’s General Administration of Customs.
China has remained Russia’s largest trading partner for the 12th consecutive year, while Russia is among China’s top 15 major trading partners. Today, China’s share in Russian international trade accounts for 16 percent. The world’s second-largest economy mainly exported electromechanical products and imported oil, coal, and lumber from neighboring Russia.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that the Chinese president also voiced an intention to set a new target of $250 billion in trade with Russia.
“The volume of our trade turnover has already reached $140 billion, as was emphasized by the leaders during the talks,” TASS quoted Peskov as saying on Friday. “President Xi Jinping has already set a new goal for us in this regard - $250 billion.”
Peskov further said that “this is not a lot for China, but for us, it is a very, very ambitious goal, although we see how quickly we exceeded the 100 billion mark.”
“Therefore, $250 billion, as the volume of trade, is also quite realistic, given the current dynamics of the development of bilateral relations,” the spokesperson added.
A deepening of Russian-Chinese economic relations comes at a pivotal moment when Russia’s amassing 100,000 troops along the border with Ukraine have raised severe concerns in the West. Western officials claim that Moscow is plotting an invasion of the former Soviet country, while Russia denies such claims, saying that it is free to move its troops within its borders and has no plans to attack Ukraine. Yet, the US has threatened sanctions on an unprecedented scale if it does.