April 11, 2018 / 11:35 AM / 15 days ago

Russian PM eyes U.S. goods as Moscow mulls response to sanctions

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia should look at U.S. goods or goods produced in Russia by U.S. companies when considering a possible response to new sanctions imposed on Moscow by Washington, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday.

The U.S. sanctions, announced on April 6, target officials and business people around President Vladimir Putin in an aggressive response to alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election. The sanctions have triggered steep falls in the rouble and some Russian stocks.

Speaking before Russia’s lower house of parliament, Medvedev said the new sanctions were an attempt to capture global markets for U.S. companies.

“There are quite a lot of products ... in our markets that we get from the USA,” he said. It’s not just securities... but a whole range of other products which are supplied to our market and produced by American business on the territory of our country.”

“Measures in response should be well thought-out, not inflict harm to ourselves, and be appropriate. I do not rule out that... we will have to weigh all aspects of our cooperation with the United States,” Medvedev said.

Russia imported $12.5 billion worth of U.S. products in 2017, according to official Russian customs data. That included aircraft, machinery, pharmaceutical and chemical products.

Western companies, including Ford Motor Co, PepsiCo Inc and Coca-Cola’s bottler Coca-Cola HBC, have also invested billions of dollars since the fall of the Soviet Union to set up local production in Russia.

In 2014, Russia banned a wide range of food imports from the Western countries in retaliation for international sanctions over the conflict in Ukraine. No restrictions have ever been applied to goods produced by foreign companies in Russia.

However, Russian state regulator hit U.S. fast-food chain McDonald’s Corp. with a string of snap inspections in 2015, prompting it to temporarily shut many of its restaurants, which was widely seen as retaliation for the sanctions.

Reporting by Polina Nikolskaya, Vladimir Soldatkin and Anastasia Lyrchikova; writing by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Richard Balmforth

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