Interview with Daniel Klein
Russia Today: This forum has attracted a record number of participants. Do we take this as a sign of Russia's increasing role in world business?
Daniel Klein: Absolutely. If you look at the participants and the quality of leaders from around the world and the business leaders who come to this forum. It is definitely a sign of the times. If you look at the deals that have been signed by Boeing from the U.S., French and Asian carmakers it is all testimony to the economy and also the forum as well.
RT: We have heard the First Deputy Prime Minister Sergey Ivanov is aiming to be one of the five top world economies by 2020. That is 13 years away. Is that a realistic goal?
D.K.: I believe it is realistic. If you look at the past five or six years during Vladimir Putin's reign in Russia you have seen the economy grow, GDP per capita grow from $US1,500 to $US6,000 today. It is clear it is going to probably double in the next several years and by 2020 Russia will be the fourth or fifth largest economy.
RT: How important an event is this for the Russia and the international business community?
D.K.: It is very important for the international business community because it is a chance for international business leaders to come to Russia and to see what is behind the headlines, what is Russia all about and doing business in Russia is all about.
Earlier, Daniel Klein commented on Russia Today on the nature of Jackson-Vanik amendment and the prospects of its abolishment and generally on the process of Russia joining the WTO.
Russia Today: Just clarify for us the Jackson-Vanik amendment and why it applies to Russia?
Daniel Klein: Exactly right. The Jackson-Vanik amendment was adopted in 1974 by the U.S. Congress and the reason was to actually discourage Soviet policy on emigration and specifically its policy about emigration towards Jews. Obviously since then Russia's policy changed quite a bit and it has being popularly believed that since at least the early 1990s Russia's policy has been leveled enough to actually abolish that amendment. However, the U.S. Congress has not done so and even the Chief Rabbi of Russia is trying to encourage the U.S. to do that.
RT: Would you just tell me more about why do you think the U.S. Congress is reluctant to rescind it and what sort of timeframe we are looking at?
D.K.: Well, I think there is really a hidden agenda there because in fact there is actually no reason to not rescind that.
RT: So what reason do you feel is behind that?
D.K.: There are other issues, there are obviously other political issues, maybe relating to the arms or relating to, perhaps, WTO issues, such as, for example, piracy of discs and so forth.
RT: So, if it does come about that Russia does join the WTO what key benefits would it experience through joining?
D.K.: Well, actually all the WTO member countries' consumers benefit greatly because in fact what happens is price reduction of tariffs on things like automobiles, clothing, consumer goods and so forth. I think that you realize that if you travel outside of Russia that Russia is quite expensive for most consumer goods and I think that would be welcome news for most consumers in Russia.
RT: Obviously, it is taking time to clarify everything and get that membership. What are the obstacles at the joining the WTO? There has been talk, for example, of the intellectual property rights problems