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1994 - Mr Major’s Speech in Nizhniy Novgorod

Below is the text of Mr Major’s speech made in Nizhniy Novgorod on Wednesday 16th February 1994.


PRIME MINISTER:

Thank you very much for your welcome which I very much appreciate. If I may speak for British business we are very keen to expand both our trade and our investment links with Russia in general and of course with Nizhniy.

It is an important part of our Ambassador's job, and here he is, to make sure that we increase our trade and investment and where appropriate our Embassy will always be happy to help.

Let me talk of some other concrete matters. In order to encourage trade from the United Kingdom to Russia we have established very large amounts of export insurance available for British companies.

We have no barriers at home in the UK against Russian trade. The trade between our two countries has been growing very rapidly over the last two years, indeed your Prime Minister mentioned to me in our discussion yesterday that we were now the third largest trading partner in Russia.

The best way to encourage trade is between the two private sectors, the private sector in the United Kingdom and the private sector in Russia and I shall certainly advise the private sector in the United Kingdom to look at the opportunities in Russia and the prospects for greater trade. I have no doubt that trade can be dramatically increased and I look forward to it happening.

There is also the question of investment in Russia by British companies. I believe there is a growing interest in such investment and that interest will undoubtedly become greater as the reform process becomes more established.

So in summary I believe the trade and investment will grow and speaking for the British side we will do all we can to encourage this.

QUESTION:

[Not interpreted].

PRIME MINISTER:

I think that is a very important question and a very good one.

Let me set out what I think the foreign investor would wish to see to maximise the chances of investment in Russia. There are several things that will concern them particularly. Politically they will want to be certain that the reform process will continue. Economically they will want to be certain that action is being taken to restrain the level of inflation. They will be looking for some reasonable assurances over the broad level of taxation to be certain that it will not change dramatically. They will be looking for an efficient handling of bureaucracy in all its aspects and they will be looking as far as possible to be certain that they are operating in a climate that is moving increasingly towards free enterprise.

Many of the things they would have wanted have already been brought about, they will be pleased about the political and economic advances that have been made, they will have been pleased by the liberalisation in [indistinct] they will have been pleased by the convertibility of the Rouble. So a great deal has been done that will encourage and reassure the external investor. But they will be even more reassured if the other matters I have mentioned progress. And it is probable that the volume and amount of their investment will reflect the further changes that are made and there is certainly a great potential out there, not just in Britain but right the way across Western Europe and North America, there is a great potential for further investment.

The list I have given is not an inclusive list but it touches upon the most important points and I believe these points are increasingly understood by decision makers in Russia.

QUESTION:

[Not interpreted].

PRIME MINISTER:

I could with a little notice, I mentioned some of the areas of assistance, I did not mention all of them and some of the initiatives are specifically for Nizhniy and others cover other areas but will also help Nizhniy. But to give you an illustration: the technical assistance centre that I mentioned a few moments ago that we propose to establish, that costs something in excess of 4 million pounds sterling. I am not sure how many roubles that is today. The secondary market project, that costs around 4.5 million pounds sterling. But British support for Russia as a whole is running at the moment at something over the equivalent of over 1 billion dollars, that sum is partly bilaterally and it is partly our share of resources from the European Community, we pay it to the Community and they collectively pass it on. That is a broad illustration.