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685 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     677 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities

SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

27.09.2016

Speech by Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko at the RBCC Centenary Business Forum

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Exactly one hundred years ago (23rd October 1916) the RBCC was incorporated into Joint Stock Company in London aimed at “promotion of commerce between the British and Russian Empires”. It is remarkable that the RBCC has survived not only the two Empires but also two World Wars and the Cold War.

          Despite the fact that the Cold War has been made history, the Russian-British relationship in the recent years have been, regrettably, far from satisfactory. Let me be frank: a number of confrontational steps taken by the former British government has had a negative impact on trade and economic co-operation in general (bilateral trade declined by 50 percent in 2015 to US 11,2 bn).

Notwithstanding external pressure and unfavorable market situation, the Russian economy has held ground and began to recover. That has been possible largely due to an anti-crisis program launched by the Russian Government. The main aims of the program are to optimise public spending, support import substitution, recapitalise the banking system. Russia ranks 51st in the 2016 World Bank Ease of Doing Business index, coming well ahead of China, Brazil and India (who ranked 84, 116 and 130 accordingly). We have succeeded in bringing inflation dramatically down to 6 percent. This will allow us to harness a wide range of domestic development mechanisms. Next year we expect a revival of the GDP growth (at about 1 percent a year).

Let me stress that Russia is still open to resumption of constructive cooperation with the United Kingdom on a wide range of international and bilateral issues of mutual interest. We expect the new British Government to adopt a more balanced approach to Russia in general. At least, the recent meetings between Vladimir Putin and Theresa May on the margins of the G20 summit in China and of Sergey Lavrov and Boris Johnson at the UN General Assembly Session in New York, which have been held in a constructive manner, have inspired hope for a gradual normalisation.

We are satisfied with the progress of our business cooperation. Around 600 British companies continue to operate in Russia. In the course of the 2016 St Petersburg International Economic Forum a number of important bilateral deals were signed, including between such top players as Rosneft and BP, who will start joint exploration of large oil and gas deposits in Eastern Siberia. And between Gazprom and Shell on their “Baltyiskiy” and “Sakhalin-2” joint LNG production projects.

Regular biannual meetings of the Russo-British Joint Liaison Group on Creating International Financial Centre in Moscow continue to take place. Heads of BP, Shell, Unilever, AstraZeneca and others regularly take part in the meetings of the Foreign Investment Consultative Council chaired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev; the next one is to take place on 17th October. All these British companies are members of the RBCC.

To summarise, I would say that despite the variable climate of Russian-British political relations over last century, the RBCC has always continued to be successful in fulfilling its main mission – to effectively promote the development of mutually beneficial business ties between our two countries. In this endeavour, the RBCC may always count on the support of the Russian Embassy and Russian Government at large.

I wish all the participants of this RBCC’s Centenary Business Forum successful and fruitful work!




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