President Putin Reiterates Russia's Readiness For Mutually Beneficial Cooperation With Belgian Businesspeople

Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated Russia's willingness to develop mutually beneficial cooperation with Belgian entrepreneurs as he spoke to Belgium's business elite Tuesday. He said that Russo-Belgian economic cooperation is based not only on the two countries' raw material resources, but their huge intellectual and industrial potential as well. The President pointed to the low investment activity of Belgian companies on the Russian market. According to him, with its $154 million in investment, Belgium ranks only 18th among the investors in the Russian economy. And as far as direct investment goes, the situation is worse still--$50 million. "Such a situation cannot suit Russia," Putin said. He expressed hope that Belgian businesspeople will follow the example of other Westerners who now work successfully on the Russian market and include Russia in their investment plans. The Russian President reported that a memorandum on cooperation had been signed between the Voronezh aircraft maker and Belgium's ASCO Industries. The presence on the Russian market of the Belgian beer giant Interbrew keeps expanding, with the output produced at its Russia-based facilities now accounting for 22 percent of all locally brewed beer, he noted. Putin also described as a mutually beneficial project the participation of the Belgian energy & services company Tractebel in the construction of a sea terminal to transship liquefied gas in the Gulf of Finland. The Russian leader singled out as the most promising such spheres of economic cooperation as metallurgy, construction, aircraft making, military technologies, and food-processing equipment.

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