Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 66

Although Clinton Administration officials spoke in cautiously optimistic tones of the Russian economy in remarks before the U.S.-Russian Business Council on April 1, they nevertheless warned that Moscow needs to take several important steps in order to sustain its transition to a free-market. Pointing to recent positive changes in the Russian government, U.S. deputy treasury secretary Lawrence Summers observed that Russia currently has a "re-energized president and a dream economic team." But Summers also outlined a series of steps that he said Russia must take in order to advance to the next stage of reform. He — and other U.S. officials — ranked the creation of an efficient, equitable tax system in Russia as "priority number one," and Summers said that "Russia’s macroeconomic situation will remain perennially at risk until a predictable, adequate revenue stream is established." Summers also highlighted the fight against corruption, and its critical importance to another key determinant of Russia’s economic future: the ability to attract investment. Finally, Russia must develop domestic capital markets and build on the economic reform program currently in place, Summers said.

Summers, who reaffirmed Washington’s support for Russia’s efforts to join the World Trade Organization and the Paris Club, pointed to the key role that international financial organizations could play in Russia’s economic development and urged the IMF and the World Bank to step up their efforts in that area. Stanley Fischer, IMF deputy managing director, made the same point, suggesting that Russia is now at a crucial crossroads and that, if Moscow takes the necessary steps, it could see economic growth this year and become a more important player in the international economic arena. (Western News Agencies, April 1-2)

Gold Mines not Realizing their Potential.