Russia Proposes Package of Trade Agreements with U.S.
According to press reports, Russian officials submitted to their U.S. counterparts during a visit to Washington this week a proposal to negotiate a package of bilateral trade agreements. Among the potential deals is a bilateral investment treaty, which Moscow believes could be wrapped up within the next year, and pacts on regulations and standards, which could take up to five years. Other pacts could cover tariffs and “benefits for certain regions,” one article added. One Russian official said these agreements could pave the way for the negotiation of a free trade agreement but that such an effort could take 10-15 years.
A Reuters article cited a senior Russian official as saying his delegation had “floated the idea of establishing a framework for talks that could lead up to” the proposed agreements. It is unclear whether that could take the form of a trade and investment framework agreement. The U.S. has concluded TIFAs with dozens of trading partners to establish formal mechanisms for regular discussion of trade-related concerns.
U.S. trade officials had no immediate comment on Russia’s proposal, which some sources say was unexpected, but one article said further discussions “aimed at achieving a draft road map” will be held in January. The proposed agreements could be attractive to U.S. businesses because Russia is a large and still relatively untapped market. U.S. trade in goods with Russia totaled $40 billion in 2012, only about 1% of total U.S. trade, but two-way trade has grown about 70% since 2009.