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Trade with Russia falls 39% on crisis

SINO-RUSSIAN trade plunged 39.2 percent year on year to US$13.5 billion in the first five months, the first drop in the past decade, as a result of the global downturn, an official of the Ministry of Commerce said yesterday.

China's imports from Russia reached US$7.43 billion, down 29.3 percent, while exports to Russia dived 48 percent to US$6.06 billion, Gao Hucheng, deputy minister of commerce, said at the Russian Business Day forum.

The two-day event is connected with the 20th China Harbin International Economic and Trade Fair, or Harbin Trade Fair, which runs from yesterday to Friday.

As a result of the downturn, Russia's Turanles Forestry Co lost 10 percent of its trade with China in the first five months, said Deputy General Manager Eduard Leonidovichy. Ninety percent of the business of the company, formed in 1998, had been with China, but the downturn had cut demand for wood in China, he said.

Volatile prices of crude oil, refined oil products, wood and chemical products, combined with decreasing domestic demand, had reduced China's imports from Russia, said Luo Weidong, an official of the Department of European Affairs at the ministry.

At the same time, China's exports to Russia had fallen. The downturn had halved the export orders of Haining Hlly Garment Co in east China's Zhejiang Province. Its leather garments used to be popular in Russia, but demand shrank last year, manager Zhuang Kunming said, adding: "It might get worse this year."

The Harbin State-owned Songjiang Plywood Factory turned to the domestic market when orders from Russia fell by half, said Zhang Yongqun, its general manager.


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