Meeting participants discussed topical issues that concern Russian and Finnish entrepreneurs, in particular the prospects for increasing trade and simplifying their countries’ respective visa regimes.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, dear friends, I am glad to warmly welcome you to Moscow once again.
Mr President and I went through virtually the entire agenda of our cooperation. Naturally, its foundation is economic. For that reason I am very pleased to welcome representatives of Finnish companies here today.
I am pleased to note that Russia remains your country’s main trading partner. Total Finnish investments in Russia amount to over $3 billion. However, our level of trade has slightly decreased, from $17 billion to $15 billion. We attribute this to certain difficulties in both global and European economies. It is also connected with the fluctuation of both the dollar’s and the euro’s exchange rates. We believe that we have the capacity not only to return to our previous levels of trade, but also to exceed them in the coming two to three years.
Finnish companies work successfully and at significant levels in a number of sectors of Russia’s economy, including energy, transport, communications and, of course, the forest industry.
Last year, a record number of people – 12.7 million – crossed the Russian-Finnish border. We agreed to continue working on liberalising our visa regimes, in the light of the fact that this creates the very best conditions for the development of business contacts.
Your work, ladies and gentlemen, constitutes the foundation which underpins the prosperity of our countries. It creates new jobs, provides people with work and the opportunity to earn money for themselves and their families, and generates budget revenues at all levels.
Our Government is now preparing to hold a meeting of our intergovernmental commission. And of course this meeting with business representatives is particularly timely. I mean a forum where you can directly express your desires and views about the level and quality of cooperation.
President of Finland Sauli Niinistö (retranslated): Thank you, Mr President.
Thank you for agreeing to meet with representatives of the Finnish business community. I can assure you that we in Finland value this very highly.
We are united in our desire to further increase trade, develop trade relations between our countries, and to overcome the small lag that has developed.
As you said, Finnish companies have invested very actively in Russia. I must admit that I also came here with the goal of inviting Russian companies to invest in Finland.
Human contacts between ordinary, average people play a very important role, and not only in economic relations where their value is well-known. These contacts play a very important role in allowing neighbours to get to know each other and each others’ habits, and this is very important.
It is very positive sign that we can simplify our visa regimes and the system for obtaining work permits, especially for young people. I am sure that this is the correct way to approach the future, as well as the right way to start achieving the goals you mentioned earlier.