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    Russian economics minister concerned over underinvestment in manufacturing industries

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    Moscow, August 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russian Trade and Economic Development Minister Herman Gref said he is concerned over low investment in the country's manufacturing industries.

    Speaking at a Cabinet session today, he said the manufacturing industries could not really grow without ample outside investment, which not only provides financial support but also brings in new technology and managerial expertise. Gref also said the number of joint ventures currently operating in Russia was at a record low of 6,500, far below Eastern Europe's average.

    According to statistics cited at today's Cabinet session, direct foreign investment in the Russian economy amounted to $12 billion in the first half of 2005. However, most of this money went to finance trade and the oil and natural gas sector, while the manufacturing industries received only a small fraction.

    Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov highlighted the progress made by the manufacturing industries in recent months, praising the developments in the automotive, aircraft, defense, metal, light, and food industries. He called on Minister Gref to continue his efforts in this direction.

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