Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 177

At the conclusion of two days of talks with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on September 23, U.S. vice president Al Gore was generally upbeat, predicting "an influx of American investments in the Russian economy in the upcoming months and years." Gore did say that he had raised the problems faced by U.S. oil companies trying to operate in Russia. Two months ago Exxon saw its tender for the Timano-Pechora field canceled after investing $100 million, while Amoco reports a stalemate in its talks with Yukos on the Priobskoe field. (Reuter, September 23)

Russian government spokesman Igor Shabdurasulov complained that the U.S. is taking "a rather tough position" regarding Russia’s request to be classified as "a transitional market-oriented economy" instead of a "non-market economy." Gore said that he supported this change, but noted that it is up to the U.S. Congress to decide the issue. The question is important because reclassification would make it more difficult for U.S. producers to file anti-dumping suits against Russian exporters. The IMF semiannual World Economic Outlook, released for the IMF meeting currently taking place in Hong Kong, still classifies Russia as non-market economy, citing problems with tax collection and the failure of the banking sector to develop as a source of lending for industry. (RIA Novosti, September 23) This debate casts a shadow over Russia’s entry into the Paris Club last week, which was loudly trumpeted as a sign that Russia was gaining acceptance as an economic power.

…Agreement to Convert Russia’s Plutonium-Producing Reactors.