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    The head of the Economic Section of the Russian Embassy to the United States Mikhail Kalugin says that US businesses want to work with Russia despite Western sanctions against the country, and some are preparing new projects that will be announced at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US businesses want to work with Russia despite Western sanctions against the country, and some are preparing new projects that will be announced at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum that will take place June 18-20, 2015, the head of the Economic Section of the Russian Embassy to the United States Mikhail Kalugin told Sputnik.

    “We are speaking with the [US] business community, with different companies, discussing their projects in Russia,” Kalugin said on the sidelines of the third annual Doing Business with the BRICS conference in Washington on Monday.

    “I can assure you that most of these companies working in Russia want to stay in Russia and they want to do business with us in spite of any sanctions,” he added.

    Kalugin explained that Russia sees such developments as a good sign.

    “We know that some American companies prepare new projects to be announced during St. Petersburg Economic Forum which will happen in June,” he stated.

    In 2014, the United States, the European Union and their allies imposed several rounds of sanctions targeting Russia's banking, energy and defense sectors, as well as certain individuals over Russia’s alleged role in the Ukrainian conflict.

    Kalugin noted that Washington suspended the US-Russian Bilateral Presidential Commission as well as all work by its working groups.

    “We see it as a step back in our cooperation, because we had lots of useful mechanisms, work groups to discuss our bilateral trade issues,” Kalugin said.

    However, he added that on a working level, “we are communicating with the State Department and the Commerce Department.”

    The Russian diplomat noted that at present, restoring the Commission is unlikely to happen.

    “It is hard to imagine the restoration of the Presidential Commission or any of the work groups with sanctions still imposed on Russia. At this stage, I don’t think it’s going to happen,” Kalugin said.

    The United States also excluded Russia last year from the US Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), a trade benefits program for developing countries.

    “We were excluded because Russia is now a developed country,” Kalugin stated. “We knew that it would happen once, and it happened, so we don’t see it as a big problem.”

    The GSP is a program designed to promote economic growth in the developing world by providing preferential duty-free entry for up to 5,000 products when imported from one of 123 designated beneficiary countries and territories.

    The current sanctions against Russia are due to expire in July 2015. In response to the restrictive measures, Moscow introduced a year-long ban on certain food imports from the countries that had sanctioned it. Russian authorities have repeatedly denied involvement in the Ukrainian conflict and have called the sanctions illegal as well as counterproductive.


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