The EU wants a closer trade relationship with Russia and the elimination of economic barriers between the two, the ITAR-TASS Russian news agency reported Friday.
“We want to cooperate with Russia as well in order to remove economic barriers,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday, referring to ongoing free trade negotiations with the EU and the U.S.
She spoke at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which she described as a major platform for global political and economic negotiations.
According to the forum’s website, Merkel met with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the forum to discuss bilateral cooperation and Russia’s leadership in the upcoming G-20 summit, scheduled for early September.
Putin aims to increase bilateral trade between Germany and Russia from $80 billion annually to about $100 billion, according to a speech he gave at the forum.
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Putin underlined the energy, transport and pharmaceutical industries as key shared industries for the two countries. Germany receives about 45 percent of its natural gas from Russia and 23 percent of its oil, Putin said.
He declined to elaborate about what he and Merkel discussed with respect to the EU relationship with Russia but said there is “progress” on that front too.
Russia is the EU’s third-largest trading partner after the U.S. and China, according to the European Union, with bilateral trade between the two increasing more than 10 percent in both 2011 and 2012.
About a third of the EU’s oil and gas comes from Russia, making Russian the EU’s single most crucial supplier of energy.