The 9th session of the Russian-British Intergovernmental Steering Committee on Trade and Investment (ISC) was held in London on 29 October 2012. The Russian delegation was headed by First Deputy Prime Minister Mr Igor Shuvalov, the British delegation by Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Dr Vince Cable MP.
Representatives of Russian and British businesses, led by Alexander Shokhin for the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) and by John Cridland for the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) took part in the open session of ISC. The ISC provided a forum for Government and businesses to discuss the trade and commercial relationship between Russia and the UK in key areas and frameworks specified during the meeting of Russian President Vladimir Putin and British Prime Minister David Cameron in August, as well as in the context of the Declaration on a Knowledge-Based Partnership for Modernisation between the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in order to promote dialogue and opportunities, raise issues and tackle barriers to business.
At a time of considerable global economic uncertainty, the Co-Chairs reaffirmed the importance of expanding and deepening the current trade relationship between the two countries. They welcomed Russia’s accession to the WTO as an important achievement that is good for both countries in the promotion of open markets for trade and investments; accession will help ensure fair treatment for Russia’s exports, easier access to international markets and see an increase in foreign investment, including from UK investors. It is an opportunity to build on the complementary strengths in the already strong bilateral trade relationship. Russia and the UK will work closely together through the WTO and other fora to help improve the business climate to encourage domestic and foreign investment and innovation.
The sides confirmed that development of bilateral economic and trade cooperation and market openness are necessary conditions for maintaining the recovery of both countries’ economic potential.
The sides expressed their willingness to continue exchanging information on measures taken by governments of Russia and the UK to stimulate economic growth.
The sides also welcome the progress Russia has made towards accession to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
The Co-Chairs celebrated the success of the London 2012 Olympic Games and looked forward to further developing the cooperation between the UK and Russia ahead of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games and the 2018 Football World Cup. Close cooperation is already underway with more than 50 UK companies already doing business in Sochi. The Co-Chairs also welcomed the UK-Russia 2014 Year of Culture as an exciting prospect for the recognition of cultural ties and people-to-people links.
The Co-chairs discussed how air links should assist the development of trade and tourism links and agreed to explore the possibility of increasing the number of direct flights between the two countries. The co-chairs noted the progress made on resolving the issue of access of British beef and lamb to the Russian market and believed that information provided by the UK CVO in the last few days would mean that the issue could be satisfactorily resolved in the near future. Progress was also welcomed on the issue of providing protection to the geographical indicator “Scotch Whisky” in Russia. The UK side noted that they share the European Union’s concerns about the situation with Siberian overflight charges and Russia’s recently introduced Vehicle Recycling Fee. The two sides considered how to improve visa procedures for the benefit of travellers in both directions.
The sides welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Cooperation between “EXIAR” and «UK Export Finance» and cooperation in the field of risk assessment.
The sides noted and welcomed the active role of “RDIF” (Russian Direct Investment Fund) aimed at strengthening and developing relationship and connections with the British business community.
The sides will consider the scope for further collaboration on Housing and Territorial Development.
The Deputy Co-chairs reported to the ISC on the achievements of key work sectors since the last meeting of the ISC in November 2010. Recognising these achievements, the Co-Chairs agreed to refresh the existing programme of work under the ISC. In some areas, already established work streams will continue and in some other areas of joint priority new work streams will be established. Workstreams’ leads from Russia and the UK will work together as contact points establishing work programmes for the coming year that will foster closer business to business co-operation.
Looking forward to 2013, the Committee approved cooperation in the following Workstreams:
- The Co-Chairs agreed that the Financial Services workstream had made good progress by signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between TheCityUK and Vnesheconombank (VEB) during the UK Prime Minister’s visit to Moscow in September 2011 and the establishment of the Joint Liaison Group on developing Moscow as an International Financial Centre and should continue in its present form.
- The UK reiterated its support for Russia’s ambitions of developing Moscow as an international financial centre. Both sides looked forward to the forthcoming meeting of the Joint Liaison Group in December.
High Technology Industries
- Co-Chairs agreed that this workstream will complement the work of the Joint Commission on Science and Innovation by promoting opportunities for collaboration on commercial projects involving advanced technologies, such as with the Skolkovo Innovation hub, the Rusnano organisation and Russia’s Direct Investment Fund. Contact will be encouraged with UK parties including organisations such as Tech City.
- The sides intend to develop and support the implementation of the joint Russian-British investment projects in industries with high technological potential.
Small and Medium Sized Enterprises
- Workstream will comprise two elements henceforward. The first will continue to focus on Government to Government exchange of expertise on support for SME’s.
- For the second element both Sides will work with business associations to help UK and Russian SME’s secure business in the respective markets. The UK Side are planning a joint government and business visit by Medium-Sized businesses in late November to be led by Trade and Investment Minister, Lord Green.
- This workstream will build on the Memorandum of Understanding signed between UKTI and Russian Railways to develop business to business links, share UK experience and stimulate UK investment in the Russian railway sector.
- Both Sides agreed to work towards the removal of government imposed obstacles to growth, ensuring clear consistent rules to govern business, supporting efforts to improve the business climate, engaging in a constructive debate with the business community and offering them a mechanism to raise their concerns.
- Both sides agreed to share the UK’s practical experience and commercial expertise to support Russia’s hosting of major international sporting events over the coming years, including the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and FIFA 2018 World Cup.
- In order to further cooperation, the sides will consider the possibility of signing an interagency Memorandum of Understanding in the field of physical culture and sport.
Energy including nuclear energy and energy efficiency
- The Sides valued highly bilateral cooperation in energy sector, paying particular attention to energy efficiency, energy saving and renewable energy issues. The parties agreed that it will be more effective to develop collaboration between the Department of Energy and Climate Change of the UK (DECC) and Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation through the Russian-British Energy Dialogue.
- The sides noted the fruitful work in the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding between the State Corporation “Rosatom” and the company Rolls-Royce signed on 12 September 2011, and also welcome the expansion of cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.In order to develop such cooperation the Sides reiterated the importance of cooperation between the UK’s Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and the State Corporation “Rosatom”.
Finally, the Co-Chairs announced that the Deputy Co-Chairs for 2013 will undertake a review of progress in key areas of cooperation and looked forward to resuming a full ISC session in Moscow in 2013, noting the priority of taking concrete steps to implement the Declaration on a Knowledge-Based Partnership for Modernisation between the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian federation, Russian Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Steering Committee on Trade and Investment
Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, UK Co-Chair of the Intergovernmental Steering Committee on Trade and Investment