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CHICAGO, October 5 (Itar-Tass) — American companies are interested in doing business in Russia and are expanding their presence on the Russian market, President of the US-Russia Business Council Edward Verona told Itar-Tass in an interview. The USRBC annual meeting opened in Chicago on Tuesday.
Verona cited as an example PepsiCo for which Russia is the second largest market, and Ford that has recently established a joint venture with the Sollers company for the manufacture of automobiles in Tatarstan. General Motors, John Deere (a major manufacturer of agricultural and forestry equipment), Exxon Mobil are also expanding their presence in Russia, the USRBC president said. According to him, another positive trend is an increased volume of Russian investments in the United States. TMK IPSCO this week celebrates a decade of presence on the US market. Russia’s four major steel producers have invested in the US economy $8 billion in the form of foreign direct investment. Thus, Russian companies bring their experience, their knowledge in the United States, Verona said.
Touching upon the issue of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Verona said that he considered it possible to reach an agreement on this issue before the end of this year. According to him, the agreement may be reached before the end of December. Then, hopefully, it will be quickly ratified by the State Duma. After this, the necessary documents will be submitted to the WTO Secretariat. He expressed the hope that during the year Russia will become a full-fledged WTO member.
Earlier on Tuesday, delivering a report to the meeting participants, RF First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov also said that Russia hopes to complete negotiations on WTO accession by the end of this year.
Referring to the Jackson-Vanik amendment the USRBC president said that its abolition is “a very complex issue.” He promised to spare no effort to convince members of the US Congress that after Russia joins the WTO the Jackson-Vanik amendment would harm the United States. It is no longer relevant and is a completely outdated piece of legislation. It is time to repeal it, Verona concluded.
According to USRBC press release, this year’s Annual Meeting “Russia on the Cusp” features panels exploring Russia’s investment attractiveness and market opportunities on the cusp of national elections, the country’s leadership of APEC, and its long-awaited WTO accession, as well as energy and healthy workforce issues, and how the country’s planned privatisation, financial services reforms and industrial policies may impact its competitiveness. Chicago, the third-largest city in the United States and a sister city to Moscow since 1997, is a leader in international business and is regarded as one of the top global financial centres. The development of Chicago as a commodities trading hub and then international commercial centre provides useful parallels for Russia as it continues its efforts to integrate into international institutions and create a global financial centre in Moscow.
In addition to plenary sessions, the annual meeting will have discussions within the working groups on the topic “Modern Energy in Russia,” “The Future of manufacturing in the global economy conditions,” “Russia and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum,” “Health of personnel and labour productivity in Russia.”
The US-Russia Business Council is an independent trade association with offices in Washington and Moscow. It was formed in 1993 to promote bilateral commercial relations. The USRBC brings together about 230 companies, including the world’s leading firms. Its members provide nearly 80 percent of US investment in Russia.
USRBC is a Washington-based trade association that provides significant business development, dispute resolution, government relations, and market intelligence services to its American and Russian member companies. The USRBC provides senior management of American companies a forum to continually monitor their Russian market strategies as conditions change. The Council has also successfully acted on behalf of member firms to resolve specific commercial disputes and to influence Russian policies that negatively impact their business in Russia. For Russian companies looking to raise their profile and grow their business – within Russia and in the United States — the USRBC leverages relationships with major industry players, international finance organisations, and US government agencies to assist in strategic planning and in partner searches. Russian members benefit from an unparalleled forum for visibility and networking, thereby demonstrating their commitment to open and transparent commercial activities, according to the USRBC website.
USRBC working groups, regular briefings, and roundtables allow members to demonstrate industry leadership, nurture key private and government relationships, and influence policy that directly impacts their current and long-term business strategies. The Council’s active policy work provides a conduit for members to communicate their concerns directly to the highest levels of the US and Russian governments. These relationships have been beneficial to Council members facing obstacles related to market access, product certification, tax policy, and property rights.