China, Russia eyeing 32 projects with $75b investment: RDIF

Global Times, 29.03.2015

Welders work on the Power of Siberia pipeline project in Yakutsk in September 2014, which aims to supply natural gas in Russia as well as export gas to China. 

China and Russia are mulling 32 projects with total investment of up to $75 billion, Kirill Dmitriev, CEO ofRussian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), the country's sovereign wealth fund, told the Global Times Monday.

The projects include a petrochemical project between Chinese oil giant Sinopec and Russian petrochemical company Sibur, a project between Russian aircraft company Sukhoi Superjet and a number of Chineseinvestors to help the former expand its business in China, and a big metal project called Udocan deposit close to China, according to Dmitriev.

The projects, covering metals, agriculture, infrastructure and industries, were discussed at a meeting held Monday in Beijing by a consultative committee of entrepreneurs under the intergovernmental Russia-China Commission for Investment Cooperation.

"These projects need not just funding, but also government support," Dmitriev said.

The $2 billion Russia-China Investment Fund (RCIF), launched jointly by RDIF and its Chinese counterpart China Investment Corporation in June 2012, has already approved 10 investment projects in metals, tourism and infrastructure sectors.

Dmitriev expected the fund's investment pace to accelerate this year by approving around 10 new projects, with many in Russia's agriculture sector.

"There is big demand for agricultural products in China, and agricultural production is now very efficient and cost-effective because of the devaluation of the ruble," he said.

However, the trade volume between China and Russia slumped by 30.7 percent year-on-year in the first two months of this year, and China's foreign direct investment in Russia also dropped by 8.2 percent year-on-year during the same period, data from China's Ministry of Commerce showed.

Ling Ji, director of Department of Eurasian Affairs with the ministry, said the decline was a temporary fluctuation and does not reflect the overall trend, the Xinhua News Agency reported on March 13.

According to Dmitriev, the devaluation of the ruble has made assets in Russia more attractive to foreign investors.

"We believe that the Russian market will recover and grow substantially after the situation," he said.

"So it is the best time for Chinese companies to go in, because they can invest at lower prices, and manufacturing costs in Russia are cheaper that goods can be exported to China at a big margin," Dmitriev noted.

Song Kui, president of the Contemporary China-Russia Regional Economy Research Institute in Heilongjiang, said favorable policies such as China's One Belt and One Road initiative and Russia's development program for the country's Far East region will also bring investment opportunities.

"Chinese companies can seek long-term returns by participating in Russian infrastructure construction projects such as high-speed railways, ports and airports," Song told the Global Times Monday.

Russia on Monday officially submitted its application to join the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), according to a statement on the website of China's Ministry of Finance.

Dmitriev said the RCIF can partner with the AIIB by jointly investing in some projects, as there is a need for more than $100 billion of investment in Russia's infrastructure sector.

In May 2014, the RCIF announced a joint investment with OJSC Far East and Baikal Region Development Fund to construct the first railway bridge on the border between Russia and China, which will connect Russia's Far East region with Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province.