The unprecedented changes in the investment climate in Russia over the past year have elevated the country to the rank of one of the few "islets of stability" for the Western business circles which extremely painfully react to the current negative tendencies in the world economy. Such is the main conclusion drawn by the Fifth Annual Russian Investment Symposium which finished its work in Boston, Massachusetts state, on Saturday night. The three-day forum which drew representatives of the power structures and business elites of the USA and Russia, top officials of international financial institutions, and leading political scientists and economists was organised by the Belfer Centre of Science and International Relations of the John Kennedy School of State Administration of Harvard University and the Dow Jones company of economic news. The participants in the symposium, whose theme was formulated this year as Reforms and Renovation, at the plenary meetings and practical seminars and in the course of the bilateral talks, whose number, according to the organisers' information, attained 400 discussed the investment climate in Russia and the possibilities to attract foreign investments in the country's economy. The list of the questions on the agenda of the symposium included the state and prospects of investment in the Russian economy, the possibilities of investments in the oil and gas and power sectors, the transportation system and the high-technology production units, the investment climate in Russian regions, reform of corporate management, the potential of the workforce market, and the persisting risks to investors. Minister of Economic Development and Trade of the Russian Federation and head of the Russian delegation German Gref made an exhaustive report about the state of the Russian investment market. According to him, about 200 regulatory acts on integration of the Russian economy into the world economic and financial system have been adopted in Russia or are at the stage of drafting. Only the brief enumeration of the reforms carried out in Russia took about 40 minutes of the report which received a great ovation of the audience. The speech by aide to the president of Russia Sergei Yastrzhembsky was devoted to the necessity of getting rid of the stereotypes remaining as obstacles in the way of mutually advantageous cooperation between Russia and the West. In his opinion, Russia is still viewed by Western media largely in the light of the stereotypes inherited from the cold war. "Today it is not only an obstacle to investments but serious hindrance in conditions of the quite new level of trust." The meeting of German Gref and his American counterpart - US Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans, held during the symposium, was devoted to practical issues. The Russian Minister characterised these negotiations as "a very productive talk".
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