By CGTN's Grace Shao
“Our political relations are much better than our economic relations right now. That’s why at the moment there is so much potential for our future economic integration and growth,” said Evgeny Gorshkov, head of investor relations at Russia’s largest industrial special economic zone "Alabuga," at the third China-Russia annual investment road show on Thursday.
In recent years, trade links between China and Russia have grown as European Union countries continue to uphold sanctions on Moscow. As China's political ties with Russia strengthen, experts and industry players hope to see a reinforced bond between the two nations in economic and trade matters, and believe there are many possible contingencies between the two powerhouses.
Russia continues to pivot to the East while China continues to push forward its Belt and Road Initiative. Industry experts from both sides said there should be more than just the traditional import and export of natural resources between the two nations, as trade in consumer products and digital goods should be promoted too.
He Zhenwei, secretary general of the China Overseas Development Association, said "looking at trade numbers from 2016, economic relations between China and Russia have improved and maintained, since the drop in trade after falling oil prices. Trade between the two countries reached 70 billion US dollars. Though it’s still not a lot, it’s definitely on the rise.”
Opportunities lie ahead, but the overall attitude towards doing business in Russia is still not all rosy. Many Chinese businessmen remain skeptical about entering the market.
Gorshkov said it is up to the Russians to accept foreign capital and raise overall opportunity literacy to address such concerns.
"The level of Chinese investment in my opinion is very low. Chinese still don't know about the opportunities that Russia can provide to Chinese companies...we have been trying to do our best in attracting investment."
He Zhenwei echoed Gorshkov and reiterated that the lack of information for Chinese companies looking for business opportunities in Russia is the main issue right now. But associations like his are there to help companies going abroad.
He added “Chinese and Russian economies can actually complement each other. As Russia tries to shy away from natural resource exports, its agricultural products have found a new audience in the new consumer-driven Chinese market.”