Russia counts China trade losses from coronavirus

Agence France-Presse . Moscow | Published: 22:52, Feb 22,2020


Russian exports to China have been hit hard by the new coronavirus, which curbed demand and the movement of people and goods, official figures showed on Friday.

Exports to China fell by nearly 34 per cent from January 1 to February 19, according to Russian customs service data sent to AFP.

Trade in grain, minerals, animal fats and vegetable oil and especially hydrocarbons have been affected, with exports shifting into lower gear as the Chinese economy slows. Finance minister Anton Siluanov told RBK daily on Thursday that the fall in China-Russia trade amounted to one billion rubles per day ($15.5 million).

Russian imports from China have remained stable, but Beijing is exporting more electronics and less fresh produce, the customs figures showed.

This week, Russia’s agricultural watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor banned imports of Chinese meat products such as sausages and offal.

Media in Russia’s Far East reported that Chinese fruit and vegetables have vanished, and the price of remaining produce has risen sharply.

China is Russia’s largest economic partner with trade amounting to $110 billion in 2019. Moscow aims to increase that figure to $200 billion by 2024.

Moscow on Thursday banned all Chinese citizens from crossing into Russia to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Last year, 2.3 million Chinese citizens entered Russia including 1.5 million tourists.

The Association of Tour Operators of Russia has said that the domestic tourism industry will lose at least 2.8 billion rubles in February and March and that the total could rise to 31.2 billion rubles if Chinese visitors stay away over the summer.

A fall in oil prices as China cuts back also threatens Russia, whose state budget is dependent on oil and gas. The price of Brent crude has dropped nearly $10 per barrel since the start of the year, when it was close to $70.

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