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City news, 22.07.2008 08:03

Crist visits St. Petersburg, Russia

Gov. Charlie Crist continued his European trip Monday after meeting with Mikhail Oseevsky, the vice governor of St. Petersburg, Russia. The two talked about strengthening economic and business relations between Russia and Florida through enhanced trade and investment, while Crist offered Oseevsky the key to St. Petersburg, Fla.

Crist is one of the first state leaders to visit Russia since Presidents George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin started an economic dialogue between the two countries earlier this year.

"The governor has begun the work necessary to expand business with Russia, not the least of which were the efforts to increase tourism market share," said Dale Brill, director of the governor's Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development, in a release.

St. Petersburg -- which was known as Petrograd between 1913 and 1924, and Leningrad until 1991 under Soviet control -- is a major trade, financial and industrial center of Russia specializing in oil and gas, shipbuilding, aerospace, electronics and more, according to the governor's office.

St. Petersburg and the surrounding Leningrad region constitute the second-largest market in Russia, and its seaport is the nation's largest in terms of volume, handling 35 percent of the Russian imports.

Florida and Russia have a two-way merchandise trade valued at $986 million, allowing Russia to be the state's 29th-largest trading partner. Russia exports more than $834 million in products to Florida, while the Sunshine State sends the country cars, computers, telecommunications equipment, fertilizers and aircraft parts.

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