China Q1 overall trade with Russia, Ukraine up from year earlier

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BEIJING :China increased its overall trade with Russia and war-hit Ukraine in the first quarter from a year earlier in yuan terms, and Beijing said economic cooperation with both countries would remain normal.

Overall trade with Russia rose to 243.03 billion yuan (US$38.18 billion) in January-March, Chinese customs spokesman Li Kuiwen said at a press conference on Wednesday, up 27.8per cent from a year earlier.

Trade with Ukraine climbed to 29.6 billion yuan, Li said, up 10.6per cent.

Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 in a move that Moscow described as a “special military operation” needed to defend Russian-speaking people in Ukraine.

Beijing has refused to call Russia’s action an invasion and has repeatedly criticised what it says are illegal Western sanctions to punish Moscow.

Several weeks before the attack on Ukraine, China and Russia declared a “no-limits” strategic partnership. But analysts say they have yet to see any major indication China is violating Western sanctions on Russia.

China’s economic and trade cooperation with other countries including Russia and Ukraine remains normal, Li said, noting the uptrend in trade with both countries.

China’s overall trade with Russia reached 190.12 billion yuan in January-March 2021, while its trade with Ukraine stood at 26.77 billion yuan during the same period, according to previous customs data.

Russia’s economy is on course to contract by more than 10per cent in 2022, former finance minister Alexei Kudrin said on Tuesday, hit by soaring inflation and capital flight.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) on Tuesday revised down its forecast for global trade growth this year because of the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war.

(US$1 = 6.3646 Chinese yuan)

(Reporting by Stella Qiu, Ellen Zheng and Ryan Woo; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Sam Holmes)