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Putin concerned about Russian-US relations hitting record-low since Cold War

Russian President Vladimir Putin is grateful to US businessmen for their participation in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum against the backdrop of the continuing slump in Russian-US relations.

"I would like to thank all Russian and US organizers, I would like to thank our American friends for coming to today's event," Putin said in his opening remarks at the SPIEF-2017 panel session Russia-US Business Dialog on Friday.

The Russian leader recalled that Russia and the United States "as influential world powers maintain a dialog within the framework of different formats - in the Group of 20, in the APEC and other organizations and interact on key global and regional issues."

"There is no chance of getting away from it all, but it is very good, thank God, that this process is continuing," Putin said.

"Over the several past years we saw the collapse of the groundwork of bilateral cooperation that had taken decades to build. Our bilateral relations are now at a record-low since the Cold War," Putin said at the SPIEF-2017 panel session Russia-US Business Dialogue. In his opinion "that could not but affect the economy and our business partnership."

Putin mentioned some statistics. In 2014-2016 Russian-US trade, which had been not very big already, sank still lower by 30%."

"I believe that if a sound, pragmatic look is taken at this situation, where mutually beneficial economic contacts are curtailed, it will become clear that it cannot suit Russian or US businesses," Putin said.

"Of course, the volume of trade is insignificant and (its further shrinkage) may not be so important, but if the missed opportunities and benefits are analyzed, the conclusion will be quite different. In other words, this harmful to all," he stated.

Putin called on American businessmen to help establish constructive dialogue between Russia and the United States. "Help us to restore normal political dialogue, I ask you on behalf of Russia and I appeal to the American side - help the newly elected president, the head of the administration of the United States," President Putin said.

"I'm convinced that normalization of bilateral relations meets the interests of both countries and we will continue the dialogue with US President Donald Trump and the new administration. But to achieve success serious efforts of both sides are needed," Putin said.

The Russian leader said the sides will need political will and should be ready to solve issues of mutual interest. He expressed hope that the business dialogue in the framework of the forum, initiatives and certain ideas of representatives of Russian and US businesses will help to form a favorable environment for solving this uneasy task.

Putin has expressed confidence that only strong trade and investment ties between Russia and the United States may serve as a "safety net" from political volatility.

"Only strong trade and investment ties may ensure a reliable safety net from political volatility," he said. "The United States has always remained our significant trade partner," the Russian leader said.

There were difficult times in history when the two countries had different political and ideological systems, he said. "The United States has always remained our significant trade partner," the Russian leader said.

Washington was a key trade partner during the "emerging Soviet state, when the American business actively helped the industrialization." "This was the case with the Lend-Lease during World War II," he said. "Americans are good businessmen and as soon as they saw that Russia has money amid high prices on energy resources, they asked for the money. We were not greedy, we paid for all, I want this to be taken into account," Putin said.

The president also stressed that Russia has paid off all debts of the former Soviet Union, including those of all republics of the former Soviet Union - Russia took responsibility for this and paid for everyone."

"In the 1970s and the 1980s during the Cold War we also cooperated with the United States. Today, major US companies have not left Russia and keep strong presence on the Russian market," Putin said.

Some 3,000 companies with participation of US capital are represented on the Russian market and total assets of these enterprises are worth around $75bln and over 180,000 people have jobs there, he said.

Business in Russia to be profitable for everyone

The Russian authorities will strive to make business in Russia profitable for everyone, including partners from the United States, the president added.

"We will do our best to make business in Russia profitable for American partners," the president said, adding that the fact that the business communities of the two countries continue to maintain close contact is positive. "We plan to facilitate bilateral business projects stipulating equal partnership and cooperation as we are interested in the transfer of technologies and would like to cooperate with foreign companies in order to develop Russian industries and infrastructure," Putin said.

According to the Russian president, such mutually beneficial initiatives will contribute to the work that Russia has been doing to foster social and economic development, besides, they will help Russia start producing competitive world class goods that may be exported to other countries.

"We will do everything possible to make business in Russia profitable for our US partners," Putin said.

[Source: Itar Tass, St. Petersburg, 02Jun17]

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