SARS Brings Losses to Russian Economy

Currently experts are estimating the damage brought by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome to the Chinese economy. According to some forecasts, the GDP growth could stop in China in the second quarter, which will negatively affect economies in the South Eastern Asia. Chinese problems also influence Russia's economy, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper reported. The tourist and shuttle traffic to and from China has dropped by some 30 percent. Aeroflot has retained only three regular flights to Siangan and five flights to Beijing. Pulkovo Airlines has canceled all flights from St. Petersburg to Beijing until the middle of June. However, Russian regions bordering on China suffer most of all as their residents earn their living by trading with neighboring Chinese provinces. According to Nikolay Korolev, the deputy head of the external relations department of the Chita regional administration, the number of Russians going to China has dropped by half lately. Losses to the Chita regional budget have been about 1m rubles ($32,000) over the past month; tourist companies and transportation companies have lost about 8m rubles ($258,000) in revenues.

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