(Alexander Galushka (C), minister of the Development of Russian Far East, in an exclusive interview with Xinhua)
Russia is stepping up efforts to attract Chinese tourists and investors to its far east region by improving transport infrastructure and implementing various actions, Alexander Galushka, minister of the Development of Russian Far East, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview here last Friday.
The minister is a member of the delegation that visited China with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to attend the 22nd China-Russia Prime Ministers' Regular Meeting last week.
Within the framework of the meeting, China and Russia are in talks on several big projects. Among them, the international transport corridor projects, called Primorye-1 and Primorye-2, are estimated to involve up to 5 billion U.S. dollars of investment, said Galushka.
“China and Russia are expected to sign Primorye-1 and Primorye-2 agreements next February. In the next step, Chinese companies involved in the project will hand over feasibility studies and budget reports to Russian counterparts during the 2018 Eastern Economic Forum”, the minister said.
When the transportation infrastructure gets improved, the coastal port city of Vladivostok in Russia's far east are expected to handle 45 million tonnes of cargoes transshipped from China's Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces.
He revealed that China and Russia have also talked about developing tourism in the far-eastern city of Blagoveshchensk during the meeting. A road bridge between China's Heihe city and Blagoveshchensk is scheduled to be completed in 2019.
The minister predicted that there would be a huge tourism market in the Russian Far East with new visa policies coming into force.
In August, Russia rolled out a new visa policy allowing Chinese to get free e-visas to visit and stay in the country's far east region for up to eight days. Chinese citizens applying Russian visas now only need to fill out forms online and will receive confirmation in four days.
The minister told Xinhua that since the implementation of the new visa policy, some 2,000 Chinese citizens have received such e-visas.
Galushka believed that Chinese investors would be keen investing in tourism infrastructures in Vladivostok.
To attract Chinese to invest in the far east, Russia revised several laws, including offering more preferential policies, lowering electricity bills, and streamlining visa application procedures. Currently, the State Duma, Russia's lower house of parliament, is working on a new package of policies, including extending preferential treatments for projects worth over 15 billion U.S. dollars to ten years.
The Russian Far East covers an area of 6.2 million square kilometers. Sharing borders with China's northeast regions, it plays an important role in bilateral trade and economic cooperation.
Last year, the Russian federation established the Far East Investment and Export Agency, which focuses on attracting new investors to the far east. The agency has opened an office in Beijing, and is scheduled to open two more offices in Harbin and Shanghai at the end of this year, Galushka added.