AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke
Remarks at U.S.-Russia Business Summit
I want to congratulate the host organizations for bringing together such a distinguished group of business leaders from Russia and the United States.
This Business Summit provides a wonderful opportunity for Minister Nabiullina and myself, since we will be co-chairing a Business Development and Economic Relations Working Group as part of the intergovernmental commission formed by President Obama and President Medvedev.
I envision two purposes for the Working Group.
One, to give members of the American and Russian business communities a platform to engage with both our governments. And two, to provide a government-to-government channel where we can consider and, where appropriate, implement your ideas and recommendations.
I think this new Working Group can help advance a goal that’s in the interest of everyone here.
The United States and Russia should strive to maintain and increase the openness of our markets to trade and to investment.
Especially, in this time of economic turmoil, it is important for us to remember the pledge that all G-20 countries made in April to “not repeat the historic mistakes of protectionism of previous eras.”
Countries around the world, including the United States, have taken exceptional measures to stabilize their domestic economies. But sometimes the line between necessary domestic stimulus and outright protectionism can grow blurry. Our elected leaders rightly care deeply about stopping the job losses and dislocations that have characterized this global economic downturn. But we all must be sure not to cross to the wrong side.
Now is the time to further United States and Russian integration with the world economy.
I am proud to be able to say that the United States is more receptive to foreign investment than any other country in the world. No proposed Russian investment in the United States has been rejected and, in fact, Russian companies have made very significant investments in areas such as steel, mining and retail petroleum. These investments benefit the United States, as well as Russia.
Likewise, we consider it very much in the interest of Russia to further integrate into the world economy. We support Russia's accession to the World Trade Organization and encourage Russia to pursue opportunities to increase its bilateral trade and investment with the United States as well as other countries.
Early in this decade, Russia took steps to improve its business climate through tax and other reforms. As a result of these steps, and strong economic growth, Russia was successful in attracting significant amounts of foreign investment.
These reforms helped to jumpstart bilateral trade and investment between the United States and Russia -- which although relatively modest—is already bringing significant benefits to our countries in jobs, goods and services.
One of those benefits is innovation, which President Medvedev has identified as a key priority for the Russian economy.
Today in Russia, American companies such as Boeing, Motorola and Microsoft, and their Russian partners, are advancing and developing new technologies.
Russian workers and managers are producing new products in Russia by utilizing American investment and American partners such as Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo.
Many of the executives who have played such a key role in joint U.S.-Russia ventures are here today, and I look forward to hearing your recommendations on how we can strengthen the ties that bind our countries together.
I know that President Obama looks forward to hearing a summary of the results of this meeting, as well as of future business-to-business consultations. He and President Medvedev are planning to join us in about 90 minutes, and before their arrival I'd love to hear about the issues and possible solutions that are most on your minds.