Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Brown Praises Chernomyrdin's Policies

U.S. Commerce Secretary Ronald Brown on Monday praised the economic policies of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, further isolating the radical reformers once supported by the United States.

"The steps that (Chernomyrdin) has taken have given us great confidence in the future -- steps to hold down inflation, steps that represent fiscal prudence," Brown said.

Brown, along with 28 business executives, arrived in the Russian capital Monday for a five-day trip that includes talks with Chernomyrdin and a possible meeting with President Boris Yeltsin as well as visits to St. Petersburg and Yekaterinburg.

The trip has been billed as a let's-make-a-deal opportunity, with Brown vowing to lobby for specific U.S. projects in meetings with Chernomyrdin, Foreign Trade Minister Oleg Davydov and other top Russian officials.

Most of the business people accompanying him come from high-profile U.S. firms in Russia, such as oil firms McDermott International and Occidental Petroleum, as well as telecommunications leader U.S. West and machinery supplier Dresser Industries.

The total investment represented by the deals that could be finalized on the trip has been estimated at $45 billion.

At a press conference, Brown expressed concern over a recent near-doubling in import duties and promised to "raise the tax issue" in discussions with Russian officials.

He specifically criticized a $5 per barrel export tax on oil. The tax has been labelled a deal-stopper by most foreign oil executives.

Brown also said that he would work behind the scenes to try to jump-start stalled U.S. deals in Russia which had been caught in what he dubbed "logjams."

"Some of it has to do with various kinds of taxes that have been put into place that threaten the viability of projects that were underway," he said.

"And some have to do with the latest changes in the tariff structure, which we think serve as an impediment to economic growth in Russia. Some just have to do with bureaucratic entanglements."

In the first such deal, the Chairman of Allen & Associates International Ltd., John Allen, said Monday that his company intended to sign a memorandum of understanding to "restore the distribution system for pharmaceuticals in Russia."

On the Russia side, the deal was signed with: LNPO Soyuz and Khimavtomatika, two defense industry giants; A/O Ma Pharm of Voronezh; TER&S, Ltd. of Moscow; Novosibiirsk Pharmaceutical Company; SiTI Co. and Pharmacia Ltd of Yekaterinburg.

The company estimates revenues of $72 million per year once the system -- which includes warehousing, distribution and a specially-designed computer network -- is operational.

The pharmaceutical deal comes on the heels of a decision by the Russian government to automatically approve all drugs that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has certified.

On Monday, Brown went on a tour of Moscow's Energiya aerospace design facility where the Buran space shuttle was conceived.

He is scheduled to meet with Chernomyrdin on Tuesday.