“There can be no talk of a project for a trade zone. This concerns a set of agreements that at the end of the path will give us the equivalent of a free trade zone. Right now we are mainly talking about an agreement on protecting investments and a future agreement in the area of technical regulation, phytosanitary control,” Ulyukayev said.

An agreement on a free trade zone would require authority currently given at Customs Union level, he said. For Russia it is important to “move forward in agreements where we have legal opportunities to implement them.”

“What did we agree on today? Well there are two parts: one is legislation and the other is business practice.” Ulyukayev said Russia would meet with US officials again in Washington in February.

“We would like to [implement] several projects, such as trans-arctic and trans-pacific direct aviation links, investment infrastructure projects and interregional cooperation.”

The minister said he hoped the United States would adopt the proposals made by Russia.

“We, of course, talked about all the constant issues we have in separate areas, from phytosanitary measures to trade with certain goods. We have problems with steel, with urea and other goods, while the Americans are, naturally, most worried about their meat. There are constant questions on protecting intellectual property and on customs matters – this will all be on the agenda for the next meetings.”

The first meeting will take place in Washington on February 26 at minister level. Asked how far the issues concerning metallurgy, chemicals and meat had moved forward after Russia’s accession to the WTO, Dvorkovich said “so far there is no considerable progress, but at least now there is a mutual desire to try and find solutions to these difficult issues.” Ulyukayev said the first package of agreements may be signed “at best at the end of 2014.”