Business Secretary Vince Cable and Russian Finance Minister Alexey Kudrin today committed to closer economic ties as they chaired the UK-Russia Intergovernmental Steering Committee on Trade and Investment (ISC).

They agreed to strengthen bilateral trade and promote sustainable economic growth, whilst fighting the dangers posed by protectionism and endorsing G20 measures to prevent it.

Vince Cable said:

“This has been a very positive meeting that will help to increase trade and investment between the UK and Russia.

“We have a long-established and successful relationship in areas like financial services and technology, and I look to see this continue across other sectors. Sharing expertise will help us to grow and will hopefully bring breakthroughs that we could not achieve alone. Russia is also keen to learn about entrepreneurship and the UK’s small and medium-sized firms, which are so important for the future heath and growth of our economy.”

The Committee, which included representatives of Russian and British businesses led by Alexander Shokhin of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) and Helen Alexander of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), looked at six key areas for Russia and the UK to focus on as they work together on plans for economic development.

These were:

• Financial services
• Business environment
• Small and medium enterprises (SMEs)
• Energy and energy efficiency
• High-tech industry, including nano-technology
• Olympic legacy.

The business community present discussed the importance of improving market access, customs, visa procedures and the legislative and regulatory environment.

Both governments reiterated the importance of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), which would promote further diversification and modernisation in Russia’s economy.

The committee also discussed issues around energy and energy efficiency, following the Carbon Trust’s visit to Moscow in September. Further opportunities will be developed for enhancing the low carbon economy in Russia and a dialogue between the UK and Russia will continue into 2011.

Building on strong technical and cultural links, the committee looked ahead to the forthcoming UK-Russia Year of Space as well as the Olympics which will take place in London in 2012 and then in Sochi in 2014.

Good links have developed between the two Olympic host nations with expertise shared especially in how to use sports infrastructure after the Olympics to stimulate local economies.

All of these issues will be examined again when the ISC meets in the UK in 2011 to look at progress that has been made over the past year.