MOSCOW, September 16, Nadezhda Sarapina. Moscow and Beijing will turn Russian border cities into logistics hubs. Thanks to this, transportation volumes will increase significantly, and new infrastructure, housing and jobs will appear in the Far East. Experts expect profits to be six times greater than investments. About ambitious projects – in the material.
Russian-Chinese relations are actively developing: there are more and more joint ventures, trade turnover is breaking records. The existing infrastructure is no longer enough to meet the growing needs, partners are looking for ways to solve the problem.
As part of the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF), Xuanyuan Corporation proposed turning border cities into logistics hubs. Together with Russian colleagues, the company will build a complex for transshipment of oil, chemicals and other products in the Jewish Autonomous Region. We are talking about the transportation of both dangerous and non-dangerous goods. According to Xuanyuan Executive President Xue Hailong, the annual volume of transportation will be ten million tons.
The complex will include a railway bridge that was already opened last year between the Russian village of Nizhneleninskoye and the Chinese Tongjiang. Its throughput capacity is estimated at 25 million tons per year. In addition, an agreement was signed with the Amur Region on the construction of a closed conveyor between Heihe and Blagoveshchensk, said Xue Hailun. This system will ensure the export of 15 million tons of Russian coal, and implementation will cost 20 billion rubles.
Work will begin with two settlements: Zabaikalsk and Nizhneleninskoye. The founder of the urban planning bureau MASTER’S PLAN, Yulia Zubarik, explains that these are important transportation points. Now the turnover in Zabaikalsk is only about a million tons per year, but it can be tripled, and the throughput capacity can be doubled – from 20 to 40 million tons per year. “Investments of eight billion rubles will be required, but the benefits will be six times greater,” she clarifies. In general, the Trans-Baikal Territory is convenient to consider as a potential “growth point” due to the sustainability of the mining industry, the influx of people and the high need for new infrastructure. In addition, timber, ore and mining products, which are in great demand in China, are exported through this point. This is also why the development of the region is attractive to foreign investors.
It is equally important to develop the infrastructure in Nizhneleninsky. This will reduce the load on border crossings, the distance from Heilongjiang Province in China to Moscow will be reduced by 922 km, and travel time by 32 hours. Accordingly, transportation of goods will become significantly cheaper. “Thanks to the new bridge, it was possible to establish the transshipment of coal and ore in the amount of 5.6 million tons per year, but active tools for spatial development have not yet been launched in this territory – be it a socio-economic strategy, a master plan or a general plan. Therefore, the problem remains to be solved a clean slate,” says Zubarik. The Chinese side is interested in the development of the region as part of the implementation of the global project “One Belt – One Road”. The new logistics terminal will increase throughput to 25 million tons of cargo per year. The volume of investment is estimated at two billion rubles, and with its planned load, the return will be about 135 million rubles per year.
Other strategic projects are planned in the Siberian Federal District and Far Eastern Federal District. Among them are transport and logistics (modernization of the Baikal-Amur Mainline, Amur-Yakutsk Mainline, Kyzyl-Kuraginskaya Railway), modernization of airports (Blagoveshchensk, Ulan-Ude), creation of priority development areas (Skovorodino, Chita). The implementation period for small projects is four to six years, larger ones will be completed by 2035, says the expert.
Rapid infrastructure development will create thousands of jobs and spur housing construction. Not only houses will be needed, but also schools, shops, hospitals. Analysts emphasize: the development of settlements should be carried out according to a general plan, there should be no spontaneous development.
Of course, these are positive changes, but there will also be problems. According to Vitaly Mankevich, Chairman of the Russian-Asian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RAUIE), difficulties may arise with fluctuations in the national currency: “We have already encountered the fact that Chinese companies in Russia entered into contracts in rubles, but its fall sharply reduced the attractiveness of the agreement for partners,” he notes.
A possible tightening of sanctions will also negatively affect joint business. Many companies from China have branches abroad, including in the West. “It is important to be prepared for the fact that the choice will not be in our favor. Therefore, we always need backup options,” explains the expert.
One of the most serious problems may be the lack of workers. The analyst advises businesses to establish connections between higher and secondary educational institutions. The introduction of educational programs based on the requests of enterprises will allow us to train truly in-demand specialists. “But we shouldn’t discount those who have already received an education. The future belongs to dual specialties, for example, translator-foreign trade specialist or logistics manager,” adds Mankiewicz. In this case, additional training and advanced training courses can be organized.
Experts agree that the construction of logistics hubs and the development of Russian border cities will make it possible to effectively realize the trade potential of the two countries. The joint work has already yielded results. In particular, with the transfer of the Zabaikalsk automobile checkpoint to 24-hour operation, ten-kilometer queues at the border disappeared. And, for example, the grain terminal “Zabaikalsk – Manchuria”, built last year, stimulates grain production in the Far Eastern, Ural and Siberian federal districts.