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Bilateral interaction has strengthened and the tempo of the relationship quickened over the past few years: visitor numbers are at their highest levels; business interest in Russia has increased; and rugby has heightened the public profile in both countries. Russian visitor numbers reached a record 7,000 in 2011. Politically, too, the relationship is at new levels – a momentum reinforced by Prime Minister Key’s and President Medvedev’s meeting at APEC 2010 and high-level contact at ASEAN, ASEM and EAS meetings in 2011. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zhukov visited New Zealand in September during the RWC (the most senior level visit from Russia in over a decade) and had very positive meetings with PM Key and Foreign Minister McCully. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov visited New Zealand at the end of January this year. He also met with PM Key and Minister McCully and signed a Foreign Ministry Consultations Plan.
In November 2010, New Zealand began FTA negotiations with the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union. Both sides remain committed to concluding the agreement by the time of the APEC Summit in Vladivostok in September 2012. New Zealand will be the first partner for the Customs Union.
Russia is currently New Zealand’s 14th-largest trading partner, and exports were NZ$281 million in the year to December 2011, constituting only 0.6% of New Zealand’s overall exports. Trade is focussed on exports of our butter and meat, and imports of Russian oil. However, the FTA will help New Zealand businesses to explore the opportunities of the Russian market more actively.
Land Area - 17,075,000 square kilometres (63 x New Zealand)
Population - 141.5 million (2011 est.)
Capital City - Moscow
Language - Russian
Political system - Multiparty republic with a 2 chamber
legislature consisting of the Federation Council (upper house), and State
Duma (lower house), and an Executive
Last election - December 2011 (Parliament); March 2008 (President)
Next election due - December 2015 (Parliament), March 2018 (President)
Head of State - Vladimir Putin, President
Head of Government - Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister
US$ 1.820 trillion
Real GDP growth - 4.1%
Exports - US$501.2 billion
Imports - US$314.7 billion
Main exports - Fuels and energy, metals, machinery and equipment, chemicals
Current account balance - US$88.3 billion
Inflation - 8.6%
New Zealand Embassy Moscow, Russian Federation [external link].
Embassy of the Russian Federation, Wellington
The Safetravel website provides a travel advisory for travellers to the Russian Federation [external link].