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Chinese Containers Clogging Russian Rail Depots – VPost

Containers at the Khovrino depot in Moscow. MT

Russian railway depots are clogged with empty shipping containers from China amid a deepening trade imbalance between the two countries, the independent business news outlet VPost reported Wednesday.

Managers at Russian shipping companies told journalists that the container build-up had reached “almost critical” levels in the Moscow region and across central Russia.

According to Chinese customs data, exports to Russia have surged by 76% in 2023, while imports have inched up by just 20.4%, VPost writes, leading to significantly more containers of goods coming into Russia from China than are going back out.

The situation has been further compounded by the nature of the traded goods, as Russian raw materials are primarily transported to China via rail tanks and open wagons rather than in containers.

VPost reports that Russian shipping companies have begun offering discounts to facilitate the return of containers back to China. 

China is Russia’s largest trading partner, with a record-setting trade turnover of $190 billion in 2022.

The countries’ leaders Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin have pledged to boost bilateral trade to $200 billion this year as part of their “no-limits” partnership.

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