President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
Today, we will review the development of the metallurgical complex, and we will discuss the sector’s strategic long-term goals, as well as challenges facing our companies, here with Government members and heads of the business community.
I would like to note that Russia is an undisputed leader in the global metallurgical sector, and that it ranks among five largest steel producers. We also hold leading positions in the smelting of a number of non-ferrous metals.
Our foreign customers and partners have always seen and continue to see cooperation with Russian metallurgists as predictable and mutually beneficial.
At the same time, as we know, the Western states have imposed illegal restrictions on Russian companies. This includes a ban on shipping ready-made products, as well as the purchase of certain components for manufacturing rolled metal products, steel sheets, rods, etc.
I would like to note that these measures run counter the principles of the World Trade Organisation, even though our European colleagues have always expressed their commitment to these principles.
In this connection, I would like to instruct the Government to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the validity of our Western partners’ decisions and to draft an upgraded strategy of our actions in the World Trade Organisation. Please complete this work by June 1, 2022.
I would like to add that these unfriendly steps towards Russian metallurgists are only serving momentary political interests. Under this pretext, they have suspended ties that took years to establish and that hinged on reasonable parameters like business reputation, mutual interest and economic efficiency.
There was no place for these key concepts, which are crucial to businesses, in the political games of Europe’s bureaucrats. To be honest, the interests of European businesspeople who manufacture goods and provide employment in cooperation with Russian companies were ignored and pushed aside.
It is obvious that such rough and short-sighted policy will have a negative effect on the European countries’ economies, causing metal prices to rise sharply in their markets, something we are already seeing. We have long noted this trend, even before the special military operation in Donbass and Ukraine began. It means that the inflation rate will spike, affecting the wellbeing of European consumers, ordinary citizens. This is the cost of the decisions that were made.
I have already said that there is no reason to believe that there will be any essential change in our partners' behaviour. We have to take this into account when implementing our metallurgy development strategy at the corporate and state levels.
In view of the latest developments, we must amend the production and supply structure. Businesses are already rebuilding their logistics and production chains and looking for new suppliers and clients in order to keep enterprises working and protect the interests of their staff.
I would like to hear opinions in the meeting today on what additional measures are necessary to resolve current industry problems and overcome these challenges.
At the same time, we should not forget about the long-term development of the metallurgy industry, the implementation of its future plans, and seek not only to ensure the steady operation of the entire metallurgical complex and to maintain production volumes but to boost production capacity and expand the range of goods produced domestically.
I suggest that we discuss a potential industry development model with the business representatives here, based on the current state of affairs and thinking far ahead.
I want to stress the importance of domestic demand, which needs to be supported and stimulated – primarily, by expanding the scope of residential, infrastructure, commercial and industrial construction, and by producing more metal-based goods.
I want to repeat that long-term projects and programmes are necessary to support the demand for Russian metals. The impact of such projects and programmes will serve the entire economy. It will benefit the Russian regions and their residents. Let’s specifically focus on this matter today.
Let’s begin by giving the floor to Mr Manturov. Please.
Vladimir Putin: The metallurgical complex as a whole is one of the most important and largest sectors of Russia’s real economy. There are large teams of people working there. In recent years, a lot has been done to promote development, I know this very well, I have visited many enterprises. Vigorous work is underway to develop new technologies, which is impressive, I must say.
Taking into account the initiatives that were presented today, I propose updating the Strategy for the Development of Domestic Metallurgy until 2030, by June 1 of this year.
Here’s what I would ask you to focus on. First. In the coming years, it is necessary to ensure active growth in domestic metal consumption, as we have just discussed in detail. To be clear, this is possible only if prices for products are affordable. Mr Belousov said this quite expressively and clearly. We need to carefully look at the work of the Government and the proposals of the business community.
As I have already said, it is important to launch new metal-intensive projects that would have a comprehensive effect on economic sectors, Russian regions, the quality of life, our citizens, in the end. I mean the construction of housing, energy and social infrastructure, railways, bridges, overpasses, and other major projects.
We need to step up our efforts in these areas and fine-tune government programmes and support mechanisms. I would ask the Government to work out specific steps in this regard.
At the same time, it is important to clearly lay out the targets of the ‘construction’ in order to set the planning horizon for metallurgical companies and for their investment projects.
I would also like to note that the development goals of the mortgage programme for the current year have already been determined. I ask the Government to analyse the situation based on the April results, assess the progress, and make appropriate decisions.
Second, it is necessary to specify export areas of Russian metallurgy and redirect flows – as you have just said, colleagues – to promising and dynamic markets.
It is clear that a lot depends on the development of the transport infrastructure here. I suggest holding a separate meeting on the Eastern Operating Domain in the near future. It is obvious that in the current conditions this project should move forward at a faster pace.
Third, taxation, which companies’ representatives spoke about today, and which I asked my colleagues from the Government to comment on. I hope that when preparing the updated Strategy for the Development of Domestic Metallurgy, these differences of opinion – I repeat, we have said this many times today – will be resolved. At the same time, I would like to stress that all decisions here should be linked to long-term strategic plans, both in terms of supply of and demand for metals on the domestic market.
And last, metallurgy has its own specifics: the continuity of technological processes. Sometimes they cannot be suspended or put on pause. In this sense, I would like to ask the Government to assist metallurgists in providing them with Russian equipment and consumables, especially those items that are needed, as they say, right now, as well as in the more distant future.
And, of course, it is necessary to focus on aligning the demands of metallurgists and infrastructure enterprises. I mean regulating tariffs for services of Russian Railways and energy companies. We have spoken about this just now; we must constantly monitor it. We also need separate and effective approaches here. I am asking the Government to think carefully about this
I would like to thank all of you for your work in general and for your work during today’s meeting, and express hope that our coordinated efforts today will help the industry to work stably and also ensure its development in the short, medium and long term. We have everything it takes.
Thank you very much.