According to the governor of Amur Region, Vasily Orlov, the volume of freight transported via the highway bridge connecting the Russian city of Blagoveshchensk and China’s Heihe has more than doubled in just one year. This revelation was shared by the official during a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) in Vladivostok on Monday.
The highway bridge, spanning 1,080 meters across the Amur River, was opened to traffic in June 2022. Construction of the bridge had begun simultaneously in Russia and China in late 2016, but the opening had been postponed due to the Covid pandemic. Despite the delay, the region’s governor believes that with the opening of a permanent checkpoint, there will be a gradual increase in freight traffic to the planned capacity of 4 million tons per year.
The regional government has stated that China is the main trade and economic partner for the Amur Region, contributing to 60% of the total foreign volume of trade in the first half of 2023. Currently, the highway’s operating capacity allows up to 190 units of freight transport per day.
The majority of Russian exports to China via the bridge are non-resource and non-energy related, including products such as soybeans, processed goods, grain crops, wood products, natural food additives, and coal. On the other hand, the Chinese side supplies equipment, vehicles, consumer goods, vegetables, and fruits to the Amur Region. TASS reported that in the first eight months of this year, over 35,000 vehicles had already crossed the bridge, which is 3.5 times more than the previous year.
In addition to the highway bridge, the rail section of the bridge was opened in November 2022. Since then, Russian trains have transported over 1.6 million tons of cargo to China via the link. The first Chinese cargo train arrived in Russia via the new bridge in July. The operation of the checkpoints on both sides of the bridge round-the-clock has significantly increased the traffic flow.
The construction of this bridge was a result of a partnership between Russia and China, with an agreement signed in 1995. This agreement was later amended in 2015 to involve the governments of Amur Region and China’s Heilongjiang Province to share the costs and establish a Russian-Chinese joint venture for the project.
This increase in freight traffic between Blagoveshchensk and Heihe signifies the strengthening economic ties and trade between Russia and China. The bridge has provided a crucial link for the transportation of goods, allowing for smoother and more efficient trade between the two neighboring regions.
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