Sino Russian Trade Booms in Manzhouli Trade Zone

Added On November 29, 2017

As trade between China and Russia continues to thrive, Russian companies in Eastern Siberia are trying to establish business ties with China. 
They have now opened a trade zone in China's border city of Manzhouli, hoping to increase their opportunities in the Chinese market.
Our crew visited Manzhouli and Chita, the administrative centre of Zabaikalsk, to see how are their businesses are doing.
"6000 kilometers east of Moscow, here is the Russian Far East city of Chita. Only ten hours by train, you could reach the China-Russia border from here."
Because of its proximity to China, many local companies, big and small, are eyeing the Chinese market. 
"Vostok" is one of the oldest local confectionery factories. It was launched in 1961, the same year Soviet astronaut Yuri Gagarin completed the first space flight.
The company produces over 300 kinds of cakes, making 300 tonnes of cakes per year.
After the China-Russia special trade zone opened in Manzhouli in 2016, Evgeny began to sell his cakes there. 
During this year's spring-summer period,around 3 tonnes were sold. 
SOUNDBITE (RUSSIAN): EVGENY POPOV, Vostok confectionery  
"The idea of selling cakes to China was first suggested by representatives of Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry after a Chinese delegation of the trade zone came to them and promoted the zone. After that, I went there to see it personally and concluded a lease contract in the zone. I have not experienced any difficulties in concluding a contract.I received help from both sides."
Evgeny told CNC that the intiative was a kind of pilot for his company. Now that he has gained more insights into Chinese palates, he will be able to adjust his products to suit the preferences of Chinese buyers next year. 
Another Russian company eyeing the Chinese market is "Chita spring wells". It exports beverages and mineral waters to China.
“Undoubtedly, the water is a kind of medicine. With just one sip we get a number of mineral salts and useful substances extracted form the very depths. This water is unique itself. Our production gives a chance for the world to try this water.
The company's manager said it has recently sold its products on Taobao. It also sells them in the mutual trade zone.
To find out how popular Russian goods are in China, we went to Manzhouli, 500 kilometers away from Chita.
Manzhouli is located in the northeast of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and has a population of around 300 thousand. It is one of the country's largest border cities.
Next to the border is the Manzhouli trade zone, where Russian products are sold tax-free to Chinese tourists and local residents. 
Russian tourists can also buy duty-free Chinese products in the zone. There are now about 100 stores in the zone.
SOUNDBITE (CHINESE): CHENG GUOBIN, Trade Zone Administration Committee  男 10.41-11.28 
"The mutual trade zone is being recognized by more and more people. A number of tourists from Beijing, Shanghai or even Sanya in Hainan and other places bring Russian goods back to their homes. In general, the quality of Russian goods is very good and the price is reasonable. The zone has seen a growing number of tourists, from several hundred to 5-6 thousand tourists every day. It is estimated that from January to November this year, our zone received more than one million people." 
A wide range of Russian goods is on offer here, from chocolate, sweets, beer, and flour to handicrafts,cosmetics,and paintings. Shoppers can find almost every kind of Russian product here.
During peak season, more than 5000 people a day visited the zone, with daily trade turnover surpassing nearly 300 thousand US dollars. 
Temur came to China last year and works as a supplier to one of the shops in the zone. He told us the matryoshkas here are from Novosibirsk, his hometown. 
"A lot of customers came here during summer. One day we even attracted more than 300 customers in peak season. The most popular goods are, of course, matryoshkas. Chinese people like them very much. Many chose to buy."
Alexander sells Russian food and crafts in a shop called Mila. A native of Russia's Irkutsk, he says he enjoys his new life in Manzhouli, especially as many locals speak Russian. After living in Manzhouli for a few years, he has become very familiar with Chinese culture. 
SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH):Alexander Kleshnin, Salesman 
"I like Chinese, I like Chinese culture and food.  I want to live here for more time, maybe five years, so that I can understand more Chinese, more culture, do a bit travelling."
Zhang Hui is a truck driver living in China’s Northern Shandong Province. Every week his truck carries vegetables from Shandong to Manzhouli. After delivering his goods, he always buys some Russian goods for his family and relatives .
"Milk powder, I bought Russian milk powder. (How much is it?)- 700 yuan. My family have been drinking it for more than a year. My family consumes Russian goods quite often, like Russian cakes, beer, candies, flour. Russian goods are also sold in Shandong, but here they are much cheaper. "
As usual, Zhang Hui left for his home in Shandong with a full box of Russian products.
As China and Russia enjoy good relations, Russian businessmen are also becoming more ambitions.
Trade between China and Russia exceeded $38 billion in the first half of this year. The two countries are making efforts to increase bilateral trade to US$200 billion by 2020.