Russia-US trade lags behind potential of their economies – Russian ambassador

TASS Russian News Agency | Jun 30, 2020 at 6:27 PM

NEW YORK, June 30. /TASS/. Russia and the United States can boost bilateral trade, which was mere 28 billion US dollars last year, Russian Ambassador to the US Anatoly Antonov said on Tuesday during the Texas-Urals Regional Virtual Trade Mission and Business Dialogue.

The teleconference was organized by the Russian embassy to the United States and the the U.S.-Russia Chamber of Commerce in Houston.

"I have to admit that Russian-U.S. commercial ties are far from reaching their full potential. They do not correspond to the scale of our economies. This was repeatedly stated by Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump following the bilateral summit in Helsinki in 2018, the meeting in Osaka in 2019, and in subsequent telephone conversations. The target of achieving a qualitative increase in business contacts, trade and investment was set at the highest level," he said, adding that "the exchange of goods and services with the United States, which stood at 28 billion dollars last year, could well have reached" indices of Russia's trade with China, which hit a record high of 110 billion dollars last year.

Obstacles for trade

"It is not the pandemic what limits us," he stressed. "The problem lies within the difficulties accumulated in bilateral relations. Above all, I am talking about Russophobia, which has been flourishing in the American establishment over recent years. We witness its clear signals in our everyday work."

"U.S. economic sanctions also hinder the process. They number in the hundreds already," he went on to say. "Dozens of various tariff barriers and anti-dumping measures are in force. This limits opportunities for mutually beneficial joint projects and for the work of entrepreneurs - on both sides. American businessmen are affected no less than the Russian ones. When U.S. businessmen speak to us, they openly talk about the lost of profits in the Russian market they suffer due to external restrictions."

Dialogue between business leaders needed

The Russian diplomat recalled Russian President Vladimir Putin's initiative to establish the Business Advisory Council consisting of Russian and US business leaders and stressed that Russia is ready to launch this mechanism.

"Such a platform could provide us, politicians, with specific recommendations on the ways to improve the business and investment climate and create additional conditions to further forge trade and economic ties," Antonov said. "We are sure that entrepreneurs will quickly find a common language, all the more so as businessmen of the two countries show their high interest in each other. This is evidenced by the record number of American participants in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2017, 2018 and 2019, the number of companies from the United States coming to the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok which increases from year to year."

According to the Russian ambassador, it would be "great if every state in the U.S. could find a partner among the federal subjects of Russia and define a unique niche for dialogue which could be translated into specific projects, programs and plans." Such a mutually beneficial cooperation, in his words, would make it possible to build a new and stronger foundation for intergovernmental communication and the Texas-Urals Regional Virtual Trade Mission and Business Dialogue could be a beginning in this sense, especially bearing in mind the fact that Texas is one of Russia's key trade partners.

"The potential of bilateral trade and economic ties between Russia and the United States is high. Our common task is to find the leverage to unleash it, abandoning vestiges of the past and bloc thinking," he stressed.