Small and mid-size Russian companies see great potential in doing business with China, but bilateral trade is still hindered by multiple obstacles. Russia and China want their trade to reach 200 billion U.S. dollars over the next three years.
China conducts about four trillion dollars in worldwide merchandise trade. But only a small portion of that figure relates to Russia, its largest immediate neighbor, though the freight train is now gathering momentum.
Sino-Russian trade grew by 26 percent in the first quarter of 2017, to more than 25 billion dollars. Yet smaller Russian companies, like the Asia-Import Group, are still struggling to capitalize on the potential.
Artyom Lylyk, the firm's director general attributed its struggles to "customs clearance and issues with certification authorities – because currently there are very few licensed laboratories accredited to certify imported products."
Russia increased its use of import substitution policies, to encourage more domestic production and reduce its reliance on Europe, when sanctions were imposed. Russian businessmen naturally looked to the East – to both purchase consumer goods and export dairy, meat and other food products – but came across more barriers.
Despite frustrations, many Russian businesses are optimistic for the longer term.