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Border trade calls for better services
( 2003-11-28 00:12) (China Daily)

Financial authorities and commercial banks in China and Russia should improve foreign exchange services to facilitate the growth of border trade between the two countries, a senior financial official said yesterday in Beijing.

Settlement is a particular issue that needs the attention of financial administrators and bank officials because smooth, efficient settlement services are crucial for easy imports and exports, said Han Yuting, director general of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange's current account administration.

Han was speaking at a forum on financial co-operation between China and Russia.

On the Chinese side, financial authorities have advised border branches of Chinese commercial banks to forge ties with more Russian banks to serve as corresponding banks for each other, she said. This will result in more settlement channels for traders.

Banks should improve their services to help Chinese exporters more easily exchange foreign currency into renminbi, Han said.

Sino-Russian border trade has been booming, participants at the forum said.

But inadequate use of banking settlements by foreign trade companies is a hindrance.

Most companies engaged in border trade have been paying by remitting, through banks of a third country, or even with cash, Han said.

This results in a long payment process, which raises costs

Accompanying widespread use of cash payments is a thriving black foreign-exchange market and other illegal practices such as smuggling, money laundering and robbery, she said.

Sino-Russia border trade was US$3.18 billion in 2002, 41.1 per cent higher than the previous year. China mainly imports gas, petroleum, timber and pulp. Russia buys grain, vegetables and light industry products.

Total trade volume between the two countries was US$11.93 billion, up 24.5 per cent over 2001.

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