HELSINKI, October 25 (Itar-Tass) – Global economic situation and Finland’s trade and economic relations with Russia are expected to be the focal points of discussions that the Finnish Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade, Alexander Stubb will have in Moscow during a two-day working visit that begins Tuesday.
In the course of the visit, Stubb, who co-chairs the Finnish-Russian intergovernmental commission for economic cooperation, will hold talks with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, officials at the Finnish Foreign Ministry’s press center told Itar-Tass Monday.
The itinerary of the visit includes Stubb’s participation in the opening of the ‘Finnish Business in Moscow’ conference organized by the Finnish companies working in Russia.
The event brings together a total of 50 companies and invitations to attend it have been sent out to about 200 leading Russian business executives.
Stubb is also expected to visit the Moscow School of Economics where he will deliver a lecture titled ‘Is the EU Destined to Survive the Current Crisis’.
According to the Finnish Foreign Ministry data, Russia is Finland’s biggest foreign trade partner at the moment. Bilateral trade reached 13.9 billion euros upon the results of 2010.
Finnish companies have invested over 8 billion euros in the Russian economy to date.
On the eve of Stubb’s visit, the Foreign Ministry published an official press release that quoted the minister as saying Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization is a good thing for Finland.
“Russia's WTO membership negotiations have progressed favourably, and the EU–Russian negotiations have reached consensus on questions involving investment activities in the motor vehicle sector as well as issues linked with the implementation of the agreement on export duties on roundwood reached last year,” the press release said.
“Russia's WTO membership, expected to take place within the next few months, is a very positive thing from the perspective of both Finnish business interests and the Finland-Russia and EU-Russia bilateral cooperation,” Stubb said.
In terms of discussin the benefits the membership brings with it, he pointed out the expected improvement of “the export and other economic opportunities of Finnish companies in Russia.”
More specifically, he believes they will be improved “by reducing the customs duties levied by Russia on imports and exports and by increasing the predictability and transparency of the measures applied by Russia.”
“Any contentious issues, such as unjustified barriers to trade, can be solved more effectively within the WTO framework,” Stubb said.
On a broader plane, he says that WTO membership will also “create a basis for deeper bilateral trade cooperation and trade liberalization between the EU and Russia.”