The U.S.-Russia Strategic Framework Declaration that came out of the meeting is pretty appealing. There’s no reason (and I don’t have the time) to go through it point-by-point. Needless to say, it’s just a piece of paper without implementation. I also sincerely hope that the next U.S. President – who I am guessing will be a Democrat – will not discard this framework just because it’s a Bush agreement. Most of the document is just a restatement of well-worn initiatives – non-proliferation, arms reductions, etc. – that could use a boost.
The section entitled Strategic Economic Cooperation was compelling. Basically, the two countries recognize the need to trade and invest with one another more based on the principle of open markets. The document also sets June as a goal for completing WTO accession talks, though this is the perennial frustrated goal. The U.S. also professes to help Russia join OECD, which I think can only occur after WTO accession, though Russia has already been formally invited. The framework also advocates stronger economic and business interaction, “including through the creation within the next few months of new business-to-business and government-to-government dialogues.” The purpose of the dialogue[s] will be to “identify areas where our laws and regulations impede trade and investment, improve the transparency of the business and investment environment, and strengthen the rule of law.” Finally, the framework sets out a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) as a goal. The most important benefit of a BIT would be to establish international arbitration as a forum for the resolution of disputes between investors of one country and the government of the other. Perhaps the former YUKOS shareholders advocated this? Anyway, there is already a U.S.-Russian BIT from 1992 that hasn’t been ratified. The framework reads as though a new one will be negotiated.