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Trade Relations Between Russia and China: Potential for Growth

Analytical digest
6 September 2022
Торговые отношения России и Китая: потенциал роста
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The Research Center ITI has prepared an analytical digest titled «Trade Relations Between Russia and China: Potential for Growth» where it studies the importance of Russia as a trade partner for China in main export categories, trends in China’s demand for imports, and regional and transportation aspects of trade. The study was done as part of ITI’s expert analytics partnership with the Roscongress Foundation.

China, being the leading global economy, is already Russia’s largest trade partner. The complementarity of the two economies, shared border, large-scale transportation projects, collaboration in key sectors, participation in BRICS and SCO, as well as a range of other factors all serve as main drivers of ongoing and new bilateral initiatives. The possibility of reaching the potential of these relationships is largely determined by their current content and present-day trends.

Russian fertilizers, wood products, and foods are as valuable to China as commodities.

China’s rapid economic and social development in the last few decades resulted in an exponential growth in demand for raw materials and food products which China buys on external markets. Russia has become China’s largest supplier in such product categories as frozen fish (29.6% in China’s imports in 2021), fertilizers (28%), wood products (16.7%), and fuels (collectively coal, oil, oil products, and gas; 13%). Also, Russia plays a leading role on China’s import market in asbestos, electrical energy, magnesium hydroxide, buckwheat, newsprint, linseed, sunflower oil etc. In 2022, there was a substantial increase in China’s demand for Russian goods, including non-commodity products such as semi-finished products of non-alloy steel, synthetic rubber, frozen fish, and rapeseed oil.

Exports diversification and increasing the value added in Russia’s exports to China remain the first priority today. Further development of service exports, primarily in IT, finance, and tourism, as well as telemedicine, is rapidly growing in importance.


Optimization of logistics, with regard for regional aspects, plays the key part in exports expansion.

In particular, it’s necessary to improve the existing ways of delivering goods from Russia’s central regions and Western Siberia to the provinces of Central and Western China. At the moment, infrastructure for new railway routes via Kazakhstan is being built. The attractiveness of the idea of making the Northern Sea Route a part of the Polar Silk Road and the necessity of integrating it with the existing Eurasian land routes offer plenty of room for cooperation between Russia and China in the next few decades.


Gain more insights about economic development, trade, and transportation in the Trade policy, Export Promotion, Economic progress, and Mobility sections of the Roscongress Information and Analytical System.

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