President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Friends, colleagues,
BRICS holds a unique place in the global economy. It is the world’s biggest market, with our countries accounting for 40 percent of the world’s entire population.
The BRICS countries possess immense natural resources, a well-organised industrial base, professional human resources, and generate nearly 30 percent (just over 27 percent) of the world’s gross domestic product.
Our countries’ rapid growth is creating the conditions for economic development. My Brazilian colleague (Dilma Rousseff) spoke about this just before, and I just want to add that our overall average growth rate in 2012 was 4 percent, as opposed to 0.7 percent in the financial G7 countries. This is a more than five-fold difference, and cannot but make an impression.
The number five has a special ring here in general. Our summit is taking place in Africa, with its rich nature and very diverse fauna. In Africa people talk about the ‘big five’ – the five biggest animals on the African continent. BRICS is also made up of five countries, and as I just said, we make a very visible contribution to the global economy.
Russia wants to work with business’ support to put the BRICS countries’ potential to more effective use in developing mutual trade and investment and expanding industrial and technical cooperation.
The establishment of the BRICS Development Bank will be a big help in this work. I should note in this regard that Russia supports this financial institution’s launch, but we take the position that if it is established it will work exclusively on market principles and will support the business communities in all the BRICS countries.
I stress that Russia and its economy are open for new trade and investment projects. Our trade balance still has a surplus – last year it came to $195 billion. We are gradually bringing down unemployment, which is now at a record low of 5.5 percent.
We have guaranteed a predictable exchange rate for our national currency, the ruble, and predictable fluctuations in consumer prices. We are carrying out a responsible and carefully balanced budget policy. Our level of state debt is one of the lowest in the world. It stands at 2.5 percent as far as foreign debt goes, and is around 10–11 percent of debt overall.
Russia is implementing a series of measures to improve its investment climate. Of course, we are ready to strengthen cooperation in high-tech sectors and work together on space exploration and developing science. We have some very promising plans in this respect with South Africa, and indeed with practically all of the BRICS countries.
Russia’s trade with the BRICS countries came to a record $105 billion in 2012, and this is certainly not the limit.
Russian companies are active in Brazil, India, China, and South Africa. They are also interested in working together to come to markets in other countries too, which is entirely possible and would be most rewarding in the future.
The BRICS countries are taking steps to assist the least developed economies, including our friends and partners in Africa. Our countries’ development banks will sign agreements after the summit today on co-financing infrastructure and green energy projects. I am sure that companies from the BRICS countries will find these projects a good and useful area in which to apply their efforts.
Friends and colleagues, I am sure that by working together the BRICS countries’ authorities and business communities can give an extra boost to deepening cooperation in the interest of our countries and peoples and in order to guarantee stability, security and prosperity throughout the world.
Thank you for your attention.