By Rossella Brevetti
Feb. 24 — Russian Minister of Economic Development Alexey Ulyukaev said that meetings he would have Feb. 26 with top U.S. officials could pave the way for several important agreements addressing protection of investments and freer trade in services and goods.
These several components together “could be something like a framework for free trade,” he said in response to questions after remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, acknowledging that this would not be a free trade agreement and that his U.S. counterparts will bring “their own vision.”
Ulyukaev is scheduled to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman Feb. 26 to discuss stronger economic ties between Russia and the U.S. He will also meet with Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker.
The Working Group on Business Development and Economic Relations, which is co-chaired by Pritzker and Ulyukaev, will meet Feb. 26 for discussions on economic cooperation, including investment projects in the Russian regions, development of small and medium-sized enterprises and cooperation between financial institutions.
Pritzker and Froman had met with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich and Ulyukaev on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Jan. 23, 2014, to discuss establishing a possible bilateral investment treaty or free trade zone. Last year, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin June 17, 2013, issued a joint statement on enhanced bilateral engagement, including discussion of the development and diversification of trade and investment links.
Ulyukaev noted the commitment for stepped up commercial engagement, including hopes for new agreements on services and technical regulations. A “roadmap” for accelerating trade and investment will be discussed in the Feb. 26 meetings, Ulyukaev said. He conceded that Russia's growth rate was not at its best.
At the beginning of his remarks, Ulyukaev said “there is a lot of room for development” on trade and investment between Russia and the U.S. since trade and investment relations fall between “good and not good.”
Ulyukaev's agenda for his trip to Washington included visits with U.S. business community officials to discuss opportunities for U.S. companies to do business in Russia.
Members of the U.S.-Russia Business Council include Hewlett-Packard Co., Medtronic Inc., Procter & Gamble and QUALCOMM Inc.
Russia acceded to the World Trade Organization on Aug. 22, 2012. Russia also wants to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
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