Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister has returned from a trip to woo American investors and re-define trade cooperation with the US.
According to multiple media reports, including from the Washington Post, Igor Shuvalov met with leaders US of industrial and investment companies, US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and US Trade Representative Michael Froman.
“When I told the investors that Russia’s consolidated budget totals $700 billion, they were stunned,” Vedomosti quotes the official as saying.
According to Shuvalov, he was open about the challenges that the national economy was facing.
He also said that big US corporations didn’t have any problems investing in Russia. Shuvalov said he expected smaller firms to enter the market more actively.
In terms of trade partnership between the two countries, Shuvalov said he made several unexpected proposals to the Obama administration.
In particular, Russia is seeking to ease trade hurdles with a number of separate agreements. Shuvalov said each of them would be easier and faster to negotiate than a comprehensive free trade zone agreement.
According to the official, the US agreed to continue the talks in January.
The foreign trip was made amid declining economic growth in Russia, demonstrating that the authorities are seriously concerned with the failure to significantly improve the investor appeal of Russia.
In June 2013, Alexey Ulyukayev replaced Andrey Belousov as Economic Development Minister, but has so far failed to kick-start the economy.
According to the IMF, Russia’s prospects “have been dampened by a weak external environment, some acceleration of capital outflows and declining equity prices and subdued investment”.
Industrial output has been flat within the past ten months, and the privatization campaign announced earlier by the Medvedev cabinet has stalled amid a bleak economic outlook and reluctance of state corporations’ management to share their revenues and power with foreign players.
Author: Mikhail Vesely