Russia Must Boost Improvement of Business Environment – Finance Minister

ST. PETERSBURG, May 23 (RIA Novosti) – Russia needs to expend even more effort to improve its business environment in response to current economic problems, Finance Minister Anton Siluanov said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) Friday.

“We need to create a generally positive environment so that Western investors – and we need them as we are integrated into the world economy – can come to Russia and realize there are grounds for business and for profit. This will be the key response to the current situation,” Siluanov said.

The minister noted that sanctions imposed on Russia are just the tip of the iceberg and underline deeper problems in relations between Russia and the West.

“Though sanctions are targeted and affect some people, this is a tip of an iceberg. We know how the administration influences the businesses,” Siluanov said.

“But business is guided by profit, so if they understand that Russia can give them good profit, and it can, the capital will still come here, though at a higher cost,” Siluanov said.

A number of American companies that were urged to boycott the summit in St. Petersburg by the White House in early May refused to change their plans. Siluanov called on Russia to mobilize and take a number of delayed decisions that would boost the country’s investment attractiveness.

The US and EU imposed targeted sanctions against dozens of Russian officials, freezing their assets and introducing visa bans, over the country’s reunification with Crimea, a former republic within Ukraine. The West also put 17 Russian companies and one bank on the sanctions list. The G7 has also threatened Moscow with tougher measures aimed against key sectors of Russian economy.

Moscow responded by saying the language of sanctions is “counterproductive” and could have a “boomerang effect” on Western economies. A number of major European companies have already urged their governments to avoid economic confrontation with Moscow as it would greatly damage the business ties.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov told RIA Novosti on Friday that responsive measures against the sanctions exist, but Moscow is not voicing them because it is not interested in cutting off business contracts.

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