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MOSCOW, November 8. /TASS/. Russia would welcome the mutual removal of restrictions but its Western partners do not show "good will" for lifting sanctions, Russia’s Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said on Tuesday.
Speaking in front of Italian businessmen he said:
"As for cars, clothes and furniture - there are no restrictions on import. There are restrictions on imports of agricultural products and raw materials. Probably they are quite significant. But this is not our choice. The best proposal would be - mutual abandonment of these restrictions. We would welcome it but, unfortunately, our Western partners do not show the required "good will" in this respect."
According to Ulyukayev, the Italian government is more positive in this respect than other Western partners of Russia.
"But we are aware of disciplinary membership and responsibility in the European Union. We respect the existing rules, that is why one should look for solutions in the current circumstances," he said.
According to the minister, creation of joint productions in Russia that would make goods for exports to third countries may become a solution. In particular one of the promising sectors here is winemaking industry, which is now on the stage of revival, he said.
"This market is huge and growing. It also concerns dairy products - cheeses and so on and meat products. There are big opportunities there," the Russian minister added.
Along with expanding bilateral trade, Russia and Italy should change its structure, Ulyukayev believes:
"I think it is important not only to expand trade but also to change its structure, to link it with investment projects and with work towards global markets," he said.
Last year, according to Ulyukayev, Russia-Italy trade dropped by 36%, to 39.6 billion US dollars. So, in his words, it would not be too a difficult task to simply increase this figure.
Italy remains among Russia’s key trade partners, ranking fifth in the first eight months of 2016. Moreover, the situation with Italian investments inspires optimism as they are not declining, although growth has somewhat slowed down, the Russian minister noted, adding that about 500 Italian companies continue to operate in Russia.
"We see mutual interest in Russia and in Italy to resume our economic relations at their former level. We are facing a global challenge: trade used to be a driving force of economic growth and now it is not. We see countries trying to solve this problem through establishing trade unions, currency wars or protectionist practices. But this is a path to nowhere. Other solutions are needed," Ulyukayev stressed.