RUSSIA: American official assesses Russia's success. ¿GAZPROM open to Foreign Partners?

The new U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Economics and Energy Ruben Jeffrey has visited Russia for the first time.

After a number of meetings in the Foreign Ministry,
Ministry of Economic Development and Trade and presidential administration, Jeffrey talked with Kommersant correspondent Mikhail Zygar on how tensions between Russia and the West may affect Russian business.

RUSSIA: American official assesses Russia's success. ¿GAZPROM open to Foreign Partners?It's Good that Gazprom Opened Up to Foreign Partners.

Do the political disagreements between Russia and the West reflect on the investment climate in Russia?
The Russia economy is undergoing rapid growth now. It is growing much faster than anyone could have predicted five of ten years ago. To support that growth, a legal infrastructure, a court system, is needed. Russia understands very well. Russia understands that it has to tae additional steps for the development of the tax system. It is necessary so that there will be real competition in the economy.

While Tony Blair was still prime minister of Great Britain, he called on British businessmen not to invest in Russia. What do you think of that?
We would like business to develop in Russia. We always spoke openly and directly with our Russian partners. We reported on the reactions we received from the business community, talked about its needs and worries. For example, we always discuss intellectual property. We are also trying to integrate Russia into the world economy. That is the point of our WTO negotiations.

Can the crisis in Russian-British relations influence business ties between Russian companies and their Western partners?
Obviously, the rule of law is very important for any country, whether the U.S., Great Britain or Russia. I think the Russian-British disagreement can be overcome. It's a criminal case, and a serious problem, and we support the efforts being made by Russia and Great Britain to carry out an investigation and bring the criminals to justice.

What's getting in the way of Russia's admission to the WTO?
Negotiations on Russia's joining the WTO are going on in various dimensions. As for the bilateral negotiations between Russia and the U.S., everything was successful and the agreement has already been signed. Now multilateral negotiations are going on with all of the WTO member states. Issues come up that still have to worked out, agriculture and intellectual property, for example. It is very important for us that Russia become a member of the WTO. As you know, Russia is the tenth-largest economy in the world and it is developing very quickly.

The U.S. has opposed energy projects initiated by Russia. For example, the Burgas-Alexandroupolis and Prikaspiisky pipelines. What is that related to?
The U.S. is in favor of the development of an alternative route for fuel supplies and of development on an open, transparent basis. We believe that is in the interest of the consumer as well as the producer. As far as specific pipelines are concerned, the market will decide that. The important thing is that there be alternative supply routes.

Gazprom chose Total as its partner in the development of the Stockman deposit. What is your attitude to that?
It is an important event. First, the development of Stockman will create a new mechanism for the distribution of liquefied natural gas. Second, everyone in the world community and on Russia understands that it will need additional investment. The fact that Gazprom decided to open up to cooperation with foreign partners is a constructive and positive turn of events. We hope that process will continue.

But Gazprom chose Total over the American ConocoPhillips and Chevron.
Correct. It is important to us that Gazprom acknowledge the need for foreign partners. We hope it will continue to consider the possibility of attracting additional partners to the project.

The Jackson-Vanik Amendment is a long-time obstacle to Russian-American relations. When will it be repealed?

The president of the United States has long supported the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment. That question is now before Congress. The problem will be settled in the near future. It is also tied to Russia's entry into the WTO.
RUSSIA: American official assesses Russia's success. ¿GAZPROM open to Foreign Partners?

Via: Kommersant
by Mikhail Zygar

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