US-Russia Trade Ties Have High Potential But Hindered By Russophobia, Sanctions – Antonov

WASHINGTON (UrduPoint News / Sputnik – 30th June, 2020) The commercial ties between the United States and Russia have tremendous untapped potential, but exploiting the potential is currently hampered by Russophobia and sanctions, Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov said on Tuesday.

“I have to admit that US-Russia commercial ties are far from reaching their full potential. They do not correspond to the scale of our economies,” Antonov said.

The Russian ambassador noted that this fact was repeatedly stated by Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump following their summit meeting in Helsinki in 2018, the meeting in Osaka in 2019 and in subsequent telephone conversations.

“The target of achieving a qualitative increase in business contacts, trade and investment was set at the highest level,” Antonov said.

The ambassador also noted that trade between Russia and the United States stood at $28 billion in 2019, while trade between Russia and China hit a record high of $110 billion.

Antonov emphasized that the relatively low-level of commercial ties between Russia and the United States is not due to objective difficulties such as the novel coronavirus pandemic, but because of accumulated political issues with Russophobia among the US political elite toping the list.�

“It is not the pandemic what limits us. The problem lies within the difficulties accumulated in bilateral relations. Above all, I am talking about Russophobia, which has been flourishing in the American establishment over recent years. We witness its clear signals in our everyday work,” Antonov said.

While the leaders of the two nations have laid during their contacts a creative vector for bilateral cooperation, the instructions have got “bogged down in the swamp of bureaucracy” by those tasked with their implementation.

“And the swamp is growing,” Antonov said.

The ambassador also said that US economic sanctions against Russia hinder the prospects of improving bilateral commercial ties.

“They [sanctions] number in the hundreds already, but how many more are pending approval by Congress?” Antonov said. “Dozens of various tariff barriers and anti-dumping measures are in force. These limit opportunities for mutually beneficial joint projects and for the work of entrepreneurs – on both sides.”

Antonov pointed out such restrictive measures negatively affect US and Russian businesses alike as has been admitted by numerous US businessmen.

“When US businessmen speak to us, they openly talk about lost profits they suffer in the Russian market due to external restrictions,” Antonov said. “We have to seek loopholes for the development of bilateral cooperation. That is why we traditionally call for supporting the business community rather than obstructing its activities.”

Antonov also said mentioned as important Russian President Vladimir Putin‘s initiative to create a Business Advisory Council that would include prominent business people from both countries.

“As for the Russian side, we are ready to launch that mechanism. We are waiting for reciprocal steps from the American side,” Antonov said. “Such a platform could provide us, politicians, with specific recommendations on the ways to improve the business and investment climate and create additional conditions to further forge trade and economic ties.”

Relations between Russia and the United States deteriorated in 2014 under then-US President Barack Obama with the crisis in Ukraine, when Washington expressed its disagreement with Moscow‘s actions and imposed sanctions.

Since, the United States has expanded and tightened the sanctions regime following accusations of Russia‘s alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential campaign.� Russia has repeatedly denied interfering in the US political processes.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that he would like US-Russia relations to be normalized and has expressed his intention to develop cooperation in various spheres of mutual interests.

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