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    Moscow Ready to Create Favorable Environment for US Enterprises - Russian Envoy

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    SALT LAKE CITY (Sputnik) - The US policy of imposing economic pressure on Russia will not bring positive outcomes because Moscow has found ways to adapt to the restrictive measures and compensate for any losses, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said at a meeting with the business community of the US state of Utah on Tuesday.

    "I would like to emphasize, that pressuring Russia with sanctions will not give positive results," Antonov said. "However, our arguments are not being heard. The US administration keeps talking about increasing the amount of restrictions."

    Antonov noted that Russia’s economic relations with the Western countries have declined due to the political crisis in relations.

    "In such circumstances, we began looking for ways to compensate for the ‘losses.’ We found such opportunities in India and China," Antonov explained. "There is a window of opportunity in economic relations with Japan and South Korea. These countries showed great interest to what Russia has to offer — not only in our energy resources, but also in space cooperation, nuclear energy, aircraft and car manufacturing and many others. This was the real response to anti-Russian sanctions."

    Antonov pointed out that Russia endured multiple shocks, including low oil prices and a currency depreciation, but has found ways to adjust.

    "The Russian economy has adapted to new forms of restrictions. We began developing import substitution," Antonov said. The Russian envoy also emphasized that as a consequence of its adaptive actions, Russia has achieved serious results.

    "The state budget has entered the surplus zone — not only due to increased oil prices, but also thanks to improvements in tax revenue. Now we have a more robust banking system. The social obligations are fulfilled. As a result — the Russian economy remains attractive for investors," Antonov said.

    However, Antonov also said that Russia faces challenges, including concerning structural changes, demography and maintaining macroeconomic stability. "Our general task is to develop manufacturing industries, small- and medium-sized businesses, export of high-tech commodities with a view to increase the income of our citizens. We work on improving investment climate," Antonov said.

    Meanwhile, the US media has badly misrepresented Russia’s foreign policy and tried to muddy its political image, but Russia and the United States are not and have never been enemies, Russian envoy sttressed. "Russian-American relations are in a state of deep crisis. There is a lot of fake news surrounding them. The political image of my country and its foreign policy is severely distorted. The media portrays Russians as enemies," Antonov said.

    The Russian ambassador said he strongly disagrees with such narrative because "We are not enemies and we never were." Antonov went on to say that Russia has been supporting the United Stated from the country’s very foundation.

    "We declined British and French proposals to oppose the 13 rebel British colonies on the East Coast of America. Our country openly supported Abraham Lincoln during the US Civil War," Antonov said. "Emperor Alexander II and Abraham Lincoln called each other ‘good friends.’ Is it really imaginable to forget how our fathers and grandfathers fought side by side against Nazism and spilled their blood during World War II?"

    In addition, Antonov noted that each year on April 25 the two nations commemorate the historic meeting between the Soviet and US troops on the Elbe River in 1945.

    "This historic moment is one of the most powerful symbols of our brotherhood-in-arms," Antonov said. "These few, yet remarkable examples show how close the Russian and American people really are, the resemblance of our fates, but most importantly — the great benefits we can provide for our countries and the entire world when we work together, jointly protecting Russia and the United States from security challenges and threats."

    Moreover, playing the so-called "Russian card" for internal political purposes in the United States is unacceptable, Russian Ambassador said Tuesday. "It is unacceptable that the ‘Russian card’ is played in [US] partisan struggles and domestic political battles," Antonov said. Moscow, Antonov said, wants recognition and respect for Russia’s national interests. Russia, however, is open to constructive cooperation to the extent that the United States is ready, he added.

    "We stand ready to discuss any, even the most complicated issues, but such dialogue must by candid, transparent and based on facts," Antonov said. "This is the only way to mend the situation in Russia-US relations."

    The Russian ambassador also said the current crisis in US-Russian relations do not meet the interests of either country. "Almost all channels of communication have been frozen, which were essential and effective even during the Cold War," Antonov said. "This situation has a negative impact on our economic cooperation."

    However, Russia is willing to provide favorable environment for US companies wishing to do business in the country, and is specifically interested in technology transfer as well as infrastructure development, Anatoly Antonov said Tuesday.

    "We are ready for further dialogue with American businessmen wishing to cooperate with our country," Antonov said. "We are interested in technology transfer, participation of US companies in the development of our industry and infrastructure. We are ready to create a favorable environment to make this business profitable for our US partners as well."

    Antonov noted that US-Russia trade is modest — about 20 billion dollars — and emphasized that the current sanctions imposed on Russia does not benefit US economic interests. "The two great powers could achieve much greater results if the political and economic restrictions were removed," Antonov said.

    The Russian ambassador pointed out that about 3,000 companies, whose total assets are estimated at more than $70 billion, operate in Russia with US capital and employ some 180,000 people.

    "Despite current political difficulties, American businessmen do not want to leave Russia… [The] latest Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg was attended by 556 representatives from the United States — one of the largest foreign delegations," he pointed out.

    Antonov also said there is a great potential to develop cooperation between the state of Utah and Russia in several areas.

    "I will name one of them — medicine. Our bilateral ties in this area have gained positive momentum," Antonov said. "The number of joint projects to localize production of medicine keeps growing. Such companies as Abbott, Pfizer, Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb and others work in Russia."

    Antonov noted that Russia is looking for ways to expand cooperation with foreign businesses as "trade wars or sanctions are not our way." "Such policies only undermine international order, including international economic relations. Business must not fall victim to political disagreements," Antonov said.

    Relations between the United States and Russia worsened following their disagreement over the crisis in Ukraine. The United States imposed several round of sanctions against Russia after Crimea held a referendum in 2014 in which a vast majority of residents decided to reunify with Russia.

    Washington also accused Moscow of meddling in the 2016 US presidential election and has imposed additional rounds of sanctions. Russia has repeatedly refuted the allegations.

    Anatoly Antonov said Tuesday that The United States and Russia need new tools in order to revive full-fledged political dialogue and develop mutually advantageous economic relations. "We need new tools to restore full-scale political dialogue between our countries and to build mutually beneficial economic ties," Antonov said at the meeting with business leaders.

    Antonov recalled that Russian President Vladimir Putin, during his meeting with US President Donald Trump in Helsinki in July, suggested creating a high-level group that would bring together leaders of two countries' business communities to promote development of bilateral trade and investments.

    "We are confident that businessmen know how to develop mutual cooperation better," the ambassador added. "Perhaps, businessmen in Utah could come up with ideas on ways to implement the Russian proposal?"

    Most US companies remain positive about their work in Russia, despite several rounds of sanctions imposed on Moscow by Washington, according to a survey carried out by the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia in April. The survey revealed that almost 70 percent of US businesses intended to start new projects in Russia in 2019, and almost 90 percent planned to either increase their investments in Russia or at least maintain them.

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    tensions, cooperation, environment, relations, business, Anatoly Antonov, Russia, United States
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