Province bolsters ties with Russia
Winston Yau and Josephine Ma
Northeastern province Heilongjiang looks set to bolster economic ties with Russia and restructure its agricultural sector to meet the challenges of the mainland's accession to the World Trade Organisation.
Provincial officials said yesterday the Government would help traders strengthen their presence in Russian markets and increase bilateral trade.
Governor Song Fatang said Heilongjiang would assist sizeable and reputable mainland trading companies to set up shopping malls in Russia.
The Government will also foster closer ties with Russia's high-ranking officials.
To facilitate Sino-Russian trade, the province is drumming up foreign investment by building a convention and exhibition centre in Harbin, the provincial capital.
Heilongjiang accounts for 25 per cent of Sino-Russian trade, which reached US$1.4 billion last year. Trade peaked in 1993 at US$2.4 billion and then kept declining until 1998.
Mr Song said trade volume was 'disproportionately low considering the strength of the two countries'.
Russia's self-sufficient rate on light industrial products was only 40 per cent, indicating potential for further trade development.
Heilongjiang will keep sweet corn production at present levels to weather the expected influx of corn imports after WTO entry, and shift to raising poultry and cash crops.