$155b aim for Sino-Russian trade by 2000

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 June, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 June, 1997, 12:00am

Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and his Chinese counterpart Li Peng yesterday witnessed five accords aimed at pushing bilateral trade to US$20 billion (HK$154.7 billion) by the year 2000.

They also formalised a mechanism for regular meetings.

In a ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, they toasted swiftly warming relations and then witnessed the signing of an accord aimed at boosting trade co-operation.

They also witnessed pacts on energy co-operation between Siberia and northern China, maintaining the Russian consulate in Hong Kong, using Russian rolling stock on Chinese railways, and an accord on cultural co-operation.

Mr Li said after the signing: 'Although our bilateral trade is not so big at the moment, I am confident it will increase to US$20 billion by the end of the century because we have lots of possibilities for co-operation, especially in gas, oil and electricity.' Mr Chernomyrdin echoed his optimism and called for greater co-operation in defence, transportation and space research.

'We have a very serious task to increase our economic co-operation, but it can be achieved as our two countries are very big and their potentials are huge,' he said.

According to Chinese and Russian sources, the energy accord comprised two general agreements.

The first was to build two pipelines from the Irkutsk region in eastern Siberia to northern China. A gas line would be completed by 2003 at a cost of up to $5 billion, allowing the export of up to 30 billion cubic metres of gas a year from Russia. An oil pipeline would be completed by 2005.

The second agreement was a general outline on building a 2,500-kilometre power line from Siberia to northern China that would be completed by 2002 and would allow Russia to sell up to 20 billion kilowatt hours of Siberian electricity annually to China, the sources said.

Mr Chernomyrdin also met President Jiang Zemin and looked relaxed with the Chinese leaders, who both called for increased political and economic ties.

Mr Chernomyrdin was accompanied by Russia's First Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and three ministers.

The delegation was also expected to press for confirmation of several major projects, including a US$10 billion deal to supply equipment for the Three Gorges hydroelectric dam on the Yangtze River and the construction of a nuclear power plant in Jiangsu province.

Mr Chernomyrdin arrived in Beijing late on Thursday after a brief stop in Shenzhen. He is due to leave China today.