MOSCOW, May 29 (RIA Novosti) – The payments on a range of export contracts signed during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to China may be made in the two countries’ national currencies, Deputy Minister of Economic Development Alexei Likhachev told RIA Novosti Thursday.
“I think, yes. The Finance Ministry must as soon as possible create the appropriate conditions,” Likhachev said, responding to a question on possible payment between Russia and China in the ruble and yuan.
China is Russia’s major trade partner, with bilateral trade turnover estimated at around $90 billion per year. Moscow and Beijing earlier said they planned to boost the role of national currencies in mutual payments.
Russian Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov have already met with the head of China’s National Bank to discuss the issue, Likhachev said.
Payments in national currencies should begin under short-term contracts, he said. “Companies fulfilling long-term contracts should independently define their position. Gazprom has voiced its interest, but it needs to make more precise calculations,” Likhachev said.
The decision to switch to the national currencies, thus reducing dependence on the US dollar was first announced in 2010 by then-Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
Russia and China are planning to increase the volume of direct payments in mutual trade in their national currencies, according to a joint statement on a new stage of comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation signed during high-level talks in Shanghai last week.
Gazprom and CNPC signed a 30-year contract May 21 for the sale of Russian gas to China at a volume of 38 billion cubic meters per year with delivery via an eastern pipeline, which will cross Siberia to reach China’s populous northeast regions. The deal is estimated to be worth $400 billion. The first gas deliveries to China from Russia are expected to begin in the next four to six years, with a $25 billion advance for deliveries a possible option.