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25 Mar, 2010 07:30

US, Russia look for concessions to boost trade

The United States and Russia have pledged to scrap protectionist measures, that's after figures showed an alarming drop in trade between the two countries.

Russia set up a raft of trade barriers last year to protect domestic producers in the crisis. Higher import taxes prompted a 30-fold slump in sales of used foreign-made cars. Deputy Economy Minister Andrey Slepnev told RT that those tariffs can go back to pre-crisis levels.

“The government’s meeting today to discuss cutting taxes on cars made abroad.”

The US is also under fire. Barack Obama’s $800 billion economic stimulus package features a ‘Buy American’ clause.

It means only U.S. iron, steel and manufactured goods can be used in projects funded by the bill. Russia’s richest man Vladimir Lisin says the rules even stop him employing Americans at his US steel plant, just because the owner’s Russian.

Michelle O’Neill, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce, told RT that both sides should make concessions.

“I don’t know the specifics of that issue but I would say there are things we could do on our side, as well as on the Russian side, we very much believe there are government actions required on both sides.”

On Friday, Vladimir Putin noted bilateral trade had crashed since the start of the crisis, from $36 billion to $16 billion.

He warned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton they wouldn’t have full cooperation until Russia joins the World Trade Organization. Moscow blames US special interests, notably its mighty farming lobby, for blocking entry.