Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said Moscow wants to add momentum to economic and investment cooperation with Washington, which now falls short of its potential, Russian news outlet Zvezda reports.
Lavrov gave the remarks opening a meeting with a group of representatives of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia (AmCham). The statements come as western businessmen in Russia are shocked at the arrest of prominent American businessman Michael Calvey, the founder of equity fund Baring Vostok, who is in detention in Moscow on embezzlement charges.
“Today Russia-U.S. cooperation falls short of its potential,” Russia’s top diplomat said. “We would like to give an additional impetus for our economic and investment cooperation.”
According to Lavrov, to this aim Russian and U.S. Presidents, Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump, discussed at their Helsinki summit in July 2018 the idea of setting up a coordinating business council involving top executives of five or seven major private companies from each side.
The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) handed over to the U.S. partners these initiatives. “However, we haven’t received any response so far. Probably, that’s because of the political environment that is currently dominating in the U.S.,” Lavrov said.
The foreign minister said that nevertheless, bilateral trade has been steadily growing over the past two years, reaching $25 billion in 2018.
“This is less than the record-high level of $31 billion in 2011 but much better than the figures that we saw when the Obama administration decided to destroy the basis of our cooperation,” Lavrov noted. Mutual investments have been also on the rise, “reflecting the existing interest of U.S. companies in the Russian market and reciprocal interest of Russian investors in the U.S.,” he said.
“We are interested in this and we are ready to provide every support for enhancing such business ties. The Russian president and government have repeatedly confirmed our desire to improve economic cooperation and cultivate investment climate,” Lavrov said. “We want to attract foreign businesses, including from the United States, and create favorable conditions for them. We hope there will be also a favorable attitude towards Russia’s business circles,” Lavrov said, according to TASS news agency.