U.S. seeks to strengthen trade ties with Russia, Biden says

08:26, March 15, 2011      

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U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Monday that his country will seek to build stronger ties of trade and commerce with Russia as the next steps in efforts to further bilateral relations.

"The next frontier in our relationship will be building stronger ties of trade and commerce that match the security cooperation we have achieved," Biden, who wrapped up his three-day official visit to Moscow last week, wrote in the International Herald Tribune newspaper.

He recalled that when the Obama administration took office two years ago, U.S.-Russia relationship had reached a low point. "A dangerous drift was under way," he said, noting that the war between Russia and Georgia in August 2008 furthered the decline in the relationship.

He said that taking into account the fact the two countries' security and economic interests were more closely aligned than ever, President Barack Obama made it a priority to reset U.S. relationship with Russia, and "asked me to launch it just three weeks into the new administration at the Munich Security Conference."

While in Moscow last week, Biden witnessed the signing of a two- billion-U.S.-dollars sale of eight Boeing 777 aircraft to Aeroflot. He noted that Boeing estimated that this contract alone would sustain 11,000 jobs in the United States, saying this deal expanded on last year's agreement to sell 50 737s to Russian Technologies.

"All of these contracts allow our companies to tap into unique Russian technical expertise and make even better products that we can sell in Russia and the rest of the world," Biden wrote.

"Yet our trade and investment relationship is nowhere near where it could or should be," the vice president lamented, noting that Russia was America's 37th largest export market in 2010, and "the value of goods that cross our borders with Canada and Mexico every few days exceeds the annual value of our trade with Russia."

In his 2010 State of the Union address, Obama pledged to double exports within five years through a national export initiative.

Biden opined that one way to realize the potential of the relationship is to bring Russia "more fully" into the international trading system. "That is why we strongly support Russia's effort to join the World Trade Organization," he said, explaining that accession will enable Russia to deepen its trade relations with the United States and the world, and give American companies "greater and more predictable" access to Russia's growing markets, expanding both U.S. exports and employment.

"Being a part of the WTO means that Russia will have to play by the rules or face enforcement actions," he added.

Biden said that once Russia does what is required to join the WTO, the Obama administration will work with the Congress to terminate the application to Russia of the Jackson-Vanik amendment- - a Cold War-era law that tied trade relations with Russia to Jewish emigration that remains on the books.

"These steps are crucial components of our administration's trade agenda," he noted.

He also expressed concerns about Russia's business and legal climate and "backsliding on democracy," saying they will present " serious obstacles."

Source: Xinhua

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