France ranks among Russia's 10 major trade partners

France ranks among Russia's 10 major trade partners, official spokesman for the Russian Foreign Ministry Alexander Yakovenko told RIA Novosti ahead of French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's visit to Moscow scheduled for June 28-30.

According to Yakovenko, the forthcoming talks will focus on Russian-French trade and economic links.

In 2002, according to Russian statistics, the volume of Russian-French commercial operations reached 4.6 billion dollars, with a 0.8 billion-dollar surplus in Russia's favour.

As of the end of 2002, the total amount of French investment into Russian economy reached approximately 3.4 billion dollars.

Paris and Moscow are actively co-operating in the field of high technologies, mainly those dealing with space and aviation.

According to Yakovenko, the project of creating an infrastructure capable of launching Russian Soyuz rocket boosters from the space centre Kourou, Guiana, has been taking shape after the European Space Agency made a decision (with the help of France) to finance the programme by allocating 314 million euros (France covers up to 50% of all the expenses). The project itself is part of a programme to develop the EU market of rocket boosters until the year 2010.

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