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684 days have passed since the Salisbury incident - no credible information or response from the British authorities                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     676 days have passed since the death of Nikolay Glushkov on British soil - no credible information or response from the British authorities

SPEECHES, INTERVIEWS, ARTICLES

30.11.2016

Speech by Russian Ambassador, Alexander Yakovenko at the Russian-British Business Forum (30 November 2016, London)

 

  1. Warm greeting to all participants of the forum (Russian-British Business Forum "Partnerships for Growth. New Strategies").

-I am pleased to witness the ongoing constructive cooperation between business communities of our two countries in spite of the unfavorable political situation. This year has seen a number of impressive business events, including those arranged by the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce (as it marked its 100th anniversary), “VTB”, “Moscow Exchange” and the “Russian-British Working Group for the development of the International Financial Centre in Moscow”.
This November only, “ACRA” (a Russian rating agency), and “Urals” (a brand of export crude oil) were presented in London – for the first time outside of Russia.

-Major Russian and British energy companies continue working together:
“BP” and “Rosneft” are developing large oil and gas fields in eastern Siberia, while “Shell” and “Gazprom” carry on their Baltic and Sakhalin-2 LNG joint projects. The contribution of “BP”, “Shell”, as well as a number of other major British companies, including “AstraZeneca” and “Unilever”, was specially noted at the October meeting of the Foreign Investment Advisory Council chaired by Russian Prime-Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

-Russia's economy has proved to endure the pressure of sanctions and is now recovering, having ranked 51st in Doing Business 2016 – better than China (84th) Brazil (116th) and India (130th). Russia’s GDP growth is expected to pick up in 2017 (up to 1 p.c. in annual terms), which increases interest in the Russian market as well as demand for business communication by foreign businesses.

 

2. I am often asked what Brexit means for the Russian-British trade and economic relationship. To my view, Britain may benefit from leaving the EU by becoming more competitive in a number of sectors, most importantly, from being free to trade on its own. Here is what I mean.

-Over the years the EU introduced a variety of antidumping and other politically motivated duties at the request of its members. Such policy was implemented in industries, where products may face competition from outside the European single market. Eventually it resulted in economic costs for the EU countries, including the United Kingdom, whose customers paid for certain products much more than they could. This applies to fertilizers, biodiesel, as well as agricultural products, leather shoes, bicycles and many other products.

-May I bring fertilizers as an example. At one time many years ago, the European Union imposed duties on all the types of fertilizers to protect their producers. However, a number of countries were exempt from these restrictions, apparently for political reasons – for example, former European colonies, such as Morocco and Tunisia. In addition to that, since the beginning of the 21st century, the European Parliament has made emphasis on environment and food safety. Now legislators consider limiting the use of phosphate fertilizers with high content of cadmium alongside with other heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury and chromium, which are extremely hazardous to human health. For example, cadmium is known to cause cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

-At the same time, Russian-sourced phosphates – naturally clean fertilizers with only negligible traces of heavy metals – are subject to significant duties (up to 6.5 p.c.), while European-sourced ones, with heavy metals content hundreds of times higher, are traded without restrictions.

-Withdrawal from the European Union will allow the UK to make its own independent decisions on such important matters as health of the nation and preservation of land and water resources for future generations. In the case of fertilizers, this may mean introduction of severe restrictions on the content of heavy metals in imported fertilizers and abolition of duties on clean ones. Eventually, this will increase competition on the local market and improve the economy of British farming. This would enable the British government to guarantee the quality of agricultural products and reduce health risks without the European Union red tape dictated by economic interests of certain EU countries.

3. Russia is open for a renewed cooperation with the United Kingdom on a wide range of bilateral and international matters of mutual interest, as far as our partners in London are ready. However, the current state of political dialogue fails to meet strategic interests of both countries. In this regard, we urge British businesses to challenge the state of affairs by voicing their concerns to the British government. A closer cooperation of our countries could make significant contribution to addressing global challenges.

-This Forum offers a great opportunity to reinvigorate mutually beneficial ties between Russian and British businesses. May I wish you successful and productive work.




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