Global trade restrictions imposed amid pandemic should be temporary, says Medvedev

Restrictive measures in global trade imposed amid the pandemic should be proportionate and temporary, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev wrote in his article published in the magazine ‘Russia in Global Affairs’ on Wednesday.

“The introduction of restrictive measures in trade in goods and services by a number of countries has undermined the international trading system and value chains. However, in accordance with the G20 and APEC agreements, the WTO and the WHO recommendations, the restrictive trade measures adopted in order to provide relief to the pandemic should be proportionate and temporary,” he said.

According to Medvedev, “competition does not eliminate the need for international economic cooperation, the importance of which is increasing significantly.” “Many countries are facing the problem of funding their social obligations and debt payments. The developed economies should be willing to provide support in order to ensure global social, financial and economic stability,” he noted. “The past months have shown that various countries and international organizations are ready to cooperate and interact as they confront challenges. International organizations have come up with significant financial commitments to combat the pandemic. Thus, for example, the G20 representatives promised to allocate a total of $5 trillion to support the member countries’ economies,” Medvedev said.

The pandemic impacted trade agreements as well, he said, adding that the implementation of the agreement on the African Continental Free Trade Area has been postponed, and the negotiations on a free trade agreement between the EU and UK have been suspended. Moreover, the implementation of the first phase of a trade deal between the United States and China is in jeopardy.

“Given the circumstances, Russia should adhere to free trade principles while taking into account objective requirements for protecting life and health and ensuring our national interests. It should encourage digital commerce based on information security and protection of personal data,” Medvedev wrote.

In the EAEU, modern challenges will facilitate cooperation in healthcare and the development of a mechanism for a joint response to epidemiological challenges in a single mobile labor market, he said. “The time is right to promote distance interaction between medical institutions in Russia and its EAEU partners and to expand the presence of Russian education in the EAEU countries by way of connecting their universities to distance learning programs or individual events held by Russian universities,” Deputy Chairman of the Security Council added.

Sino-Russian trade to return to previous level in 2021, says envoy

Trade turnover between Russia and China will return to the previous level following the coronavirus pandemic as early as in 2021, Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov said on Friday in an open interview with TASS First Deputy Director General Mikhail Gusman.

The pandemic has hit the economic cooperation between the two countries, he said, noting that it will unfortunately influence the final figures that will slightly drop. “However, according to projections by Chinese specialists, which we share, we can leapfrog this year’s losses next year and reach the level of $200 bln worth of trade turnover per year by 2024 or 2025, meaning by the middle of the decade,” Denisov said, adding that trade turnover amounted to “around $113 bln at the end of last year”.

E-commerce may be the driver for expansion of Russian businesses in China

“Russia’s small- and mid-sized businesses should not fight their way to the Chinese market separately,” Sergey Iniushin told Russian media earlier this week. “The future belongs to the expansion of Russia’s presence on the Chinese market with the help of large e-commerce operators.”
He added that retailers could develop logistics in China and supply Russian products.
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba could be one of the main drivers to enhance business cooperation between the two countries. According to the trade representative, Moscow is in close contact with the conglomerate, and is trying to encourage Chinese operators to boost shipments from Russia to China.
Last year, Alibaba launched a joint venture with Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, IT company Mail.ru Group and one of the leading domestic mobile operators, MegaFon. Announcing the deal, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev said that it will allow Russian suppliers to reach 1.5 billion customers in China and globally.
Iniushin also called for the creation of “a full-fledged Russian bank” in China against the backdrop of growing trade turnover between the two countries, which surpassed $110 billion last year. As Moscow and Beijing are planning to double the volume of trade over the coming years, it is necessary to have a structure to conduct mutual settlements and solve related issues, the official said.
“A Russian bank like that will also have the functions of providing support to clients, it will help the participants of international economic activities,” the trade representative noted. “It is possible that in the near future we will see both a Russian bank and a Russian retail chain in China.”

Until the end of summer, a special regime for the export of sunflower seeds from the EAEU has been established

The Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission decided to establish a special regime for the export of sunflower seeds from the territory of the Eurasian Economic Union by the end of summer. Currently, there is an export ban on these products, which will end on June 30, 2020. After that, and until August 31, a licensing procedure for export will work.

“The special regime of export of products is due to increased demand in the world market and is associated with the formation of stocks by foreign partners to ensure food security against the background of coronavirus. Before the new crop is harvested in the Union, it is necessary to provide the domestic market with sunflower seeds, preventing the formation of a possible shortage” – commented on the decision, Minister of Trade of the EEC Andrei Slepnev.

Given the large volume of sunflower oil production capacities that has been created in the EAEU member states in recent years, the EEC does not see the dangers of overstocking or the formation of excessively low prices for products from raw materials consumers. And taking into account the fact that the Russian Federation is one of the largest exporters in the specified market, the measure is able to further stimulate the processing of sunflower seeds in the customs territory of the Union with the subsequent sale to the far abroad of finished goods.

China seeks swift restoration of air links with Russia

Beijing is interested in restarting regular flights between China and Russia as soon as possible, and is ready to advance this process through teamwork with the Russian side, a statement by the press service of the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

“China expects that the global epidemic situation will normalize shortly, so that in strict compliance with the requirements of epidemic control we could join forces with Russia to gradually restart regular contacts between the nationals of our countries,” said the statement made available to TASS.

“Certain Russian companies that have a license and meet the demands [of the Chinese side] to counteract the coronavirus, can already now choose one of the airports in the People’s Republic of China,” it said.

The ministry specified that for the time being, carriers will be operating only one flight a week along one route from a list of the Chinese cities officially opened for international flights.

“We maintain close contacts with the Russian Foreign Ministry on the issues of ensuring necessary conditions and mutual support,” the statement said. According to the press service, Russian representatives planning to visit China for a business trip or under a program of scientific and urgent humanitarian exchanges may submit visa applications to the Chinese embassy or consulates. “The Chinese side will be gradually restoring interpersonal contacts with other countries,” the statement emphasized.

Last week, China’s Civil Aviation Administration reported that starting June 8, foreign carriers would be able to choose one of the Chinese airports for future regular flights. Under the document, this refers to the companies that were not listed earlier among the carriers operating flights under the March 12 rule – one carrier from each country had the right to apply for one flight a week to China to one destination.

The Russian carriers that have received the opportunity to submit an application must guarantee strict measures of epidemic control. In case the number of passengers infected with coronavirus on board their planes arriving in China exceeds five, they will be stripped of the right to operate flights for a week. If ten passengers get infected, they will have to pause for four weeks. According to the approved list of the cities published on the website of the Civil Aviation Administration, flights can be carried out to 37 major destinations, including Beijing, Wuhan, Harbin, Shanghai and some other cities.

According to the latest statistics, over 7,477,900 people have been infected with coronavirus worldwide and more than 419,300 deaths have been reported. In addition, so far, over 3,792,000 individuals have recovered from the illness across the globe.