Interview with Peter Mandelson

British Business Secretary, Peter Mandelson, held talks with several senior Russian officials this week during his visit to Moscow.  Mutual measures to help economies in the face of the global crisis topped the agenda of the meetings.

Lord Mandelson shared with Business Today his views on the development of Russia – UK relations, and the efficiency of the economic rescue policy of the Russian Government.  He began by addressing the issue of whether the Governments measures to inject liquidity into the banking system and its share purchases mark a shift away from moves towards a market economy in Russia.

PM:

“The thing that has struck me though, in all my discussions, is that whatever need there is, and call there is for increased state involvement or intervention in the economy, as a response to the financial crisis, there does not seem to me a desire on the part of the Russian government to reconfigure, to sort of change the ethos, the outlook, the strategic direction of the Russian economy.  I think that’s wise and it will be welcome to international investors.”

RT:

There have been some serious political differences between the UK and Russia over the last 2 years or so.  Do you sense a new demeanor from both sides in dealing with those political issues?

PM:

“I think I see two things at the political level.  One is a desire not to allow our political relations to deteriorate further as a result of the disagreements that we have.  Secondly a desire to re-engage at Ministerial level to see whether it would be easier, as our economic and investment ties become stronger and deepen, that we can’t, in that context, also find some give and take on the political side, and resolve our disagreements in that context.”

RT:

You were [European] Commissioner for Trade, and one of the areas where you concerned yourself greatly was Russia’s accession to WTO. How do you see that progressing now?

PM:

“Russia has entitlements from its membership of the WTO in the future.  Why should be the largest economy, the only economy of its size, outside this club? Outside this rules based organization? So I think its really important for Russia’s future.  That view is very strongly expressed by the British government.  It continues to be held by the European Union as a whole.”