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                     Office of the Press Secretary
                           Helsinki, Finland
For Immediate Release                                     March 21, 1997


Joint Statement on U.S.-Russia Economic Initiative

At their meeting in Helsinki, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin issued a joint statement outlining a new initiative to stimulate investment and growth in Russia and advance Russia's membership in international economic organizations. This initiative builds on a strong economic partnership in which the United States has supported $4.8 billion in trade and investment in Russia, $4.7 billion in technical assistance and humanitarian aid, $1.2 billion in agricultural credits, and over $26 billion in financing from the IMF and World Bank. The Presidents undertook to strengthen Russia's historic transformation to a market economy, foster new opportunities for trade and investment, and stimulate jobs in both countries.

U.S. and international economic cooperation with Russia has contributed to an ongoing and unprecedented transformation toward the development of a free market, including:

President Yeltsin has undertaken a bold agenda to stimulate investment and launch Russia on its next phase of economic reform; including:

To encourage business development, President Clinton underscored that OPIC and EXIM will intensify efforts to support investment in Russia. Both Presidents applauded a regional investment initiative, announced in February by Vice President Gore and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, to leverage private and public capital and create models of success. For 1998, President Clinton is seeking $900 million in U.S. assistance for Russia and the NIS, up from the current $625 million. New funds will be used to facilitate trade and investment and stimulate growth in Russia and the other NIS. Equally important, forging lasting ties between Americans and Russians, particularly young people who will emerge as tomorrow's leaders.

Both Presidents will work together to promote Russia's integration with the international economic community. The Presidents will undertake every effort for Russia to join the Paris Club in 1997 and the World Trade Organization in 1998, subject to Russia meeting commercial terms commonly applied to new members, and to progress steadily to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. In addition, the Presidents asked Vice Presidents Gore and Prime Minister Chernomyrdin to broaden and intensify the work of the U.S.-Russian Commission on Economic and Technical Cooperation.

These measures will carry forward the U.S.-Russian economic relationship into the twenty-first century as Russia completes the institutional and legal reforms that will bring growth to its economy. For Americans and Russians alike, this will mean new opportunities for trade and investment and contribute to a more prosperous and stable international economic order.

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