President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy to see you all and would like to sincerely thank you for coming to Russia, to St Petersburg, and for taking an active part in the forum.
CEOs of major companies, heads of business circles and associations are respected and influential people in any nation, but I want to tell you that you are respected and influential here in Russia. Our government authorities always consider your expert opinion and we try to take into account your suggestions when making our decisions, because these suggestions are based on your practical work, on the experience of companies in a wide range of economic sectors.
As you may know, we have similar unions in Russia – some of their heads are here today, like Mr Shokhin [President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs] – they represent large, medium-sized and small businesses. We regularly meet with representatives of all these unions on a national scale, so to speak.
In the course of our preparations for the forum, we met with representatives of Russian businesses and business unions to consider a broad range of issues, including a more intensive development of domestic market, the creation of more advanced production facilities and training experts for various branches of the economy.
There was also a meeting with Russian business representatives here at the forum. We know that entrepreneurs are the main driving force of our economic development and we do our best to create the right conditions for them, so that more talented young people come to join them.
Our efforts to improve business climate are based on the assessment by business representatives of what is going on in the country. This was also how we arranged our work within the so-called National Entrepreneurial Initiative, and when we created the investment rating of the regions that I mentioned today already. I would like to stress that here the opinions of local and foreign businessmen operating in Russia are equally important for us.
We have not yet solved all the issues pertaining to the creation of favourable business climate, of course; we still have a lot of work ahead of us. We know where the so-called bottlenecks are and are trying consistently to deal with them. We single out the best management practices in the regions of Russia, see what is happening in the world and spread these practices – at least we try to spread them to all the regions of the Russian Federation. I hope those who operate in this country can already see the effect of these efforts.
With every year, Russia’s position as a prospective market is becoming stronger and I hope that many of you know this from experience and have made certain commercial progress. Despite the current difficulties, many of you not only continue operating in Russia but also expand, even despite the fact that some companies are experiencing political influence, if not pressure – unfortunately, this is true.
We appreciate this constructive and responsible approach. Moreover, we expect the business circles to make a significant contribution to the stabilisation of the situation and to restoring normal political dialogue.
Your experience in applying modern knowledge, technologies and advanced management systems, your ability to create efficient motivated teams capable of generating ideas, make precise forecasts and work in conditions of competition are all very important for us.
Russia will be an open and friendly country for all who wish to do business here. We welcome all those who have already found their slot on our markets and those who only intend to do so. We welcome our business partners and thank them for their trust and cooperation.
Thank you very much for your attention.
We can now proceed to our free discussion.