“Russian toothpaste, mineral water and food products are sold in China. It became possible last year due to devaluation and the fact that our companies are studying and working with such major electronic companies,” Stanislav Voskresensky told the Russian News Service. According to him, Chinese companies are ready to help with exports of Russian optical systems to China, as well as providing consultations on overcoming bureaucratic barriers in exports of small-business products.
At the same time, the head of the Russian-Chinese scientific financial and economic center at the Finance Academy under the government of Russia, Nikolay Kotliarov, thinks that Russian-Chinese relations have turned out to be in a difficult situation: “The devaluation of the ruble is reducing imports. Many of our companies, medium-sized businesses, which used to work in the sphere of imports, are now selling everything, shutting down their storehouses. Chinese imports are becoming very expensive for a number of products. And the fall in oil prices naturally damaged them in terms of currency earnings from exports.”
According to Kotliarov, the dynamics of the Chinese economy will slow down: “They have been speaking about this since the middle of the 2000s at all of their party sessions. They have sessions, five-year plans, just like in the Soviet Union; there is serious analytical work, reports and plans. Chinese foreign trade decreased over the last year by about 14-15%, mainly due to imports. And our experts say that it is necessary to take our bilateral relations into the investment sphere. But our investments in China were only $40 million in 2014.”
Speaking about the reasons for the situation, Kotliarov recalls the history of reforms: “How and who went there, on what conditions, who works?”
The second important point is Chinese investments in Russia, as there are not many of them. The Chinese say there is no protection, no investment climate, no trust. “The Chinese do not want to come here at all. They have higher salaries, our immigration legislation is such that all foreigners must learn Russian, take exams, moreover, it is required in the regions of Far East, in the course of a year our employers must submit lists to the Federal Migration Service with the exact names of the people who will come here to work. Chinese people refuse to come here and work. And this problem should be solved somehow, probably in a more flexible way,” the expert believes.
Transport infrastructure is also a separate issue in bilateral relations. “70% of our cargoes go by the railroads, but they cannot handle it. An agreement on the construction of the Nizhneleninskoye-Tongjiang railway was signed at the highest level in 2014. The Chinese built their part, and we didn't. And there is a whole range of issues that hinder the development of investment relations, although the new project of the Silk Road is conceptually designed in China as a real economic program, which will have funding. Our President set the task of linking the project of the EAEU with the Silk Road project. How it will actually fit will be clear in the middle of next year, when the plans of the Chinese will be clear and a number of ministries will be instructed to deal with it, there will be specific proposals on connecting these two projects,” Nikolay Kotliarov said.