Russian leader decries low level of US investment

4th April 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Monday he was dissatisfied with the level of US investment in his country, and argued that Moscow is making strides in combating corruption and enforcing the rule of law.

Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, Ivanov said his government wants to improve economic ties with the United States.

"American investments in Russia represent 2.8 percent of the total, with $7.3 billion. Sweden invests more in Russia," he said.

"We are not satisfied -- we want to develop the cooperation in space, in information technologies, in nuclear technologies."

Ivanov said Russia is not among the top 20 US trading partners and accounts for less than one percent of US trade, adding: "Isn't it a shame?"

Russia joined the World Trade Organization last year, but US Vice President Joe Biden said last month after a visit to Moscow that this was not enough to attract capital if investors are concerned about the rule of law.

"There is corruption (in Russia), there is occasionally misuse of law," Ivanov acknowledged.

"But we are fighting corruption... I wouldn't lie and promise you that we will become like Norway or New Zealand, but I think the US is not in the top five" in countries free from corruption, he said.

Biden warned last month that Russia needed to cleanse corruption in business and the legal system and forge democracy to fully benefit from joining the World Trade Organization.

Biden, in an opinion article for the International Herald Tribune, said that "only bold and genuine change" could entice Russia's desired share of international investors.

© 2011 AFP

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