President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Artemyev, will we fight syndicates?
Head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service Igor Artemyev: Yes, Mr President.
Vladimir Putin: You also wanted to discuss an executive order.
Igor Artemyev: Yes, if I may.
Mr President, first of all, thank you for this meeting today. I would like to say that it is a great honour for me to report that the Government of the Russian Federation has finally approved the draft Presidential Executive Order on main state policy parameters for promoting competition in Russia.
This is a strategic planning document. If you think it is sensible, it will carry on Articles 8 and 34 of the Constitution, which define the state policy in this area for many years to come. And not only for the executive branch. This also goes for the legislative and judicial branches, as well as for public organisations and small and medium-sized businesses, which is crucial.
We expect that a new national plan for promoting competition in our country will be approved every three or five years. The plan will provide for the most important issues in all sectors with due account of society’s position, followed by relevant amendments to federal laws and Government regulations. However, the Executive Order will set the main strategies and goals for many years.
Our country has never had such an executive order, and I have to say that it will not only save us a lot of money, human resources and materials, but will also make our economy more up-to-date and effective. Today we do not seem to be making sufficient use of these resources. That is why we ask you, if possible, to examine and support the work we have been doing for the past two and a half years on your instructions.
State purchasing. Given that the State Duma has been approving amendments to transfer all state purchasing online, which is also being done in keeping with your decision, the Executive Order will certainly make it possible for us to play a leading role in the world in terms of online state purchasing for years to come.
In the area of anti-monopoly efforts, which is one of our top priorities, it cannot be allowed that the Russian state’s undoubted achievements in reaching the lowest inflation indices in history be ruined, say, by inept tariff policies (if tariffs grow faster than inflation), or, say, by cartel practices in various areas, where again the prices will grow not only higher than inflation but at cosmic speed. The Executive Order and the government-drafted legislation, which we are presenting for your consideration as an integral national plan, will take care of all that.
Apart from our most important domestic affairs, which I have tried to describe in brief, there are some most important external initiatives, which have also been drafted on your instructions. For example, we had the honour to present to UNCTAD [United Nations Conference on Trade and Development] a major Russian Federation report on transnational corporations’ restrictive monopolistic practices in various markets. After the loss of parity with the Soviet Union in particular, these transnational corporations in many cases sign what is literally direct cartel agreements in the international arena. While in the United States, a domestic cartel agreement carries a 10-year prison term, these agreements are allowed internationally. Entire nations are being discriminated against, and this is a proven fact.
When we proposed a special document, the so-called Annex F on UNCTAD trade practices, that is, those of the United Nations, we received support from, without exaggeration, dozens of countries at once, with nearly a hundred countries now declaring that they are ready to join the work on the document and that there is a need for such a document. Working groups have been created, and we hope that we will come to terms on amending this document during 2018 and possibly will manage to have it approved in 2019. I can say that in this case Russia will become not only a big friend but also a “reliever” both for its own people and for many nations on different continents. Of course, it is very important to show that we are using competition to introduce the best practices that Russia can offer today and has followed for some time, on the international scale.
Vladimir Putin: Along with combatting offshores, this is the most important contribution to putting the economy back on a sound footing. I fully agree with you.
Igor Artemyev: Then, with your permission, we will proceed.
Vladimir Putin: Agreed. Thank you very much.