The 6th session of the UK-Russia Intergovernmental Steering Committee on Trade and Investment (SCTI) was held in London on 15 October 2002. The UK delegation was headed by Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The Russian delegation was headed by Alexey Kudrin, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation and Minister of Finance. Officials from both sides also attended.
The following agenda was agreed as the basis for discussion:
Overview of relevant developments in the UK and of Russian economic reform process;
present and future bilateral co-operation;
Actions of Governments, which could promote trade and investment co-operation;
Insurance and guarantee of export and investment by the Export Credits Guarantee Department of the UK;
Multilateral economic co-operation;
Activities of UK-Russia Working Groups of the Steering Committee.
Discussions at the 6th Session of the SCTI were once again held against a background of high-level political contact between the two countries, most notably the recent visit of Prime Minister Blair to the Russian Federation to meet with President Putin. These exchanges had highlighted the importance of developing mutual trade and investment opportunities. The strengthening political ties between the UK and the Russian Federation were seen as important in supporting and facilitating increased co-operation between the business communities of both countries.
The Parties stated that following the 5th Session of the SCTI (October 2000) trade and investment co-operation had continued to grow. Additionally, dialogue between the business communities of both countries had developed positively. However, the Parties agreed that there was scope for improvement in the level of bilateral trade and investment through further development of business-to-business communication. The Parties emphasised the important supporting roles played in this respect by the British Embassy in Moscow, the British Consulates-General in St.Petersburg and Ekaterinburg as well as the Embassy of the Russian Federation and the Trade Delegation of the Russian Federation in the UK.
The Parties recognised that the current growth in the level of bilateral trade and economic activity was promising, but were in agreement that it was important to maximise the potential for future growth in these areas.
The Parties considered ways in which further Government action could stimulate trade and investment co-operation, with the aim of creating for the business communities of both countries a favourable environment in which to exploit trade and investment opportunities.
The Parties discussed areas where steps could be taken by the respective Governments to improve the climate for mutual trade and investment co-operation. In this context the British side raised the following issues: Russian legislation related to production-sharing agreements, restrictions on the import of meat and dairy products from the UK, and copyright protection. The Russian side raised the following issues: anti-dumping restrictions on Russian goods and technical barriers, difficulties encountered by Russian companies wishing to access the UK financial services market, measures to improve investment co-operation.
The co-Chairmen agreed that the SCTI was an appropriate forum for the discussion of ways to improve the climate for the development of mutual trade and investment co-operation. The Parties highlighted the need for the UK and Russian Governments to consider steps to improve access to both markets, where they had the authority to do so, and to encourage communication and co-operation between the business communities of both countries.
Taking account of the need to create favourable conditions from which the business communities of both countries might benefit, the Parties signed the UK-Russia Joint Declaration on Investment Co-operation and agreed to consider what measures may be needed to realise its provisions.
The Parties discussed the position on export credits. The UK side highlighted that the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) had plenty of capacity for Russian business, dependent on the appropriate security being made available. The Parties acknowledged that it was disappointing that ECGD had not been able to underwrite any new transactions to date. The Parties discussed how to progress further with investment cover and medium and long term cover, so that ECGD might be in a position to underwrite Russian business.
The Parties reaffirmed their commitment to the multilateral world trade system and agreed that it was in the interests of both Parties for Russia to join the WTO as soon as the conditions and terms are right. The British side welcomed the significant progress made so far and were pleased to be able to offer continuing technical assistance to Russia in this matter.
The Parties expressed their confidence that the expansion and intensification of bilateral co-operation will promote further strengthening of relations between Russia and European Union on the basis of the EU/Russia Partnership and Co-operation Agreement and Russian accession to the WTO, leading to the future development of the «Common European Economic Space» between the EU and Russia.
The Parties considered the activities of the SCTI’s Working Groups on Energy, High Technology, Construction and Aerospace and commended each of them on their efforts. Brief written reports on the progress made in each of the Working Groups were made available at the beginning of the Session. The co-Chairmen recommended that the Working Groups should continue to co-operate and to develop further communication with the business communities from both the UK and Russia.
The Parties confirmed that the meetings held within the framework of the SCTI were useful in developing bilateral economic relations and in discussing multilateral economic co-operation issues.
The Parties agreed that in the Spring of 2003 the Deputy co-Chairmen of the SCTI would review progress on the 6th Session and make recommendations as to the timing and venue for the 7th Session of the SCTI, but with the expectation that this would be held in Moscow in the fourth quarter of 2003.