An interview of Andrew B. Somers, the president of the American Trade Palace in Russia to Strana.Ru.
Strana. Ru: "Has American business changed its attitude to Russia in the last few years? Is our country more like some 'terra incognita' for it?"
A. Somers: "In the last 2-3 years American business' attitude to Russia has changed radically. It is not taken as 'terra incognita' anymore, but rather as a serious market for American investments, sales of American goods and services, and what might be even more important, for joint projects with Russian companies. At the same time a positive attitude to appearance of Russian goods and services in American market emerges. In comparison with the period of three years ago, a great step was taken towards positive change in mentality"
S.R.: "What are the aims and tasks of Russian-America dialogue on energy, that was started on the presidents' initiative? What can it give to our countries?"
A.S.: "The aim lies in preparation of proposals to the business circles of Russia and the US from the governments of our countries, proposals for a considerable improvement of market conditions in Russia (to be precise: easing business conditions in Russian energetic), and also for easing conditions of the bilateral trade and investments in the area of energetic"
S.R.: "Is there some sort of circle of projects, benefit of which realization is totally clear for our states? Do American businessmen think that the 'YUKOS case' can in some way seriously affect the development of dialogue on energetic?"
A.S.: "I can not comment status of the whole array of projects. The only thing that I want to point out is that the American side counts the 'Murmansk project' concept a very promising for both countries. According to this concept, oil (and maybe gas in the second phase of the project) will be supplied to the Eastern coast of the US from Russia, which is definitely faster and might be cheaper than from the Middle East"
"In regards to 'YUKOS case', we have not seen a direct influence of it on the American business attitude so far, but we keep an eye for the situation. As the Trade Minister of the US Donald Evans pointed out in Harvard, all our analysts will carefully watch the development of the legal actions and evaluate it as an indicator of the legal system condition in the whole, what is a very important factor for the business"
S.R.: "What was the reason behind the creation of a separate Russian-American energetic working group? Is it possible that Americans will take in account our experience in energy system building after the serious failure of late?"
A.S.: "The main reason behind it is that electrical energetic is a too big and too important sector to not be separated into a special group. So that is why this new group was created, and co-headed by officials from 'General Electric' and "RAO UES of Russia"
"It seems to me that the crash of energy system in the USA could have influenced interest of America to the Russian experience. However, as a whole, the US energetic system is oriented at the inner market, greatly because of many problems which have been arising to the day. A part of our task is exactly to attract American electrical energetic corporations to a wider participation in the dialogue and to the work in that separate electrical energy group. There is a lot of work"
S.R.: "In Russian energy area there are hopes that after the reform private companies will invest into the energetic their funds and experience. Probably this could be American companies as well"
A.S.: "I would like to point out again that interest of the most American electrical energy corporations is not directed towards Russia not only because they face many problems at the home market, but also due to the radical transformations of this sector of Russian economy. And when there us such a radical transformation, there is also uncertainty, regardless of possible profits. Uncertainty worries investors, both portfolio and direct strategic ones, to whom American electrical energy corporations belong"