Mr Medvedev also said that the two countries’ trade and economic ties should develop in quality, in particular by becoming more resistant to crisis periods.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon friends, ministers, colleagues.
I want to start by offering my warmest greetings to everyone taking part in the Korea-Russia Business Dialogue, and I want to say right from the outset that relations with the Republic of Korea are one of Russia’s priorities in the Asia-Pacific region. We are set on developing these ties and turning them into a strategic partnership.
”Goal of establishing a full-fledged strategic partnership between our countries is the biggest objective on our relations’ agenda right now.“
I met not so long ago with President Lee Myung-bak in Russia, at the Yaroslavl [Global Policy] Forum, and we affirmed then that this goal of establishing a full-fledged strategic partnership between our countries is the biggest objective on our relations’ agenda right now.
I am sure that the visit that has begun today will help to bring us closer to this goal, and that the high level of political coordination we have achieved will be directly reflected in our business contacts too.
Trade between our countries has bounced back almost to the pre-crisis level now and came to around $11 billion for the first half of this year. This is a good figure, but we realise nonetheless that we could achieve much more.
This is still a long way off the trade figures the Republic of Korea has with countries such as the USA, Japan and China, where the results come to hundreds of billions of dollars. We therefore have plenty of room to grow. Of course, closing this gap depends above all on the people here today – on you. We hope very much to see our bilateral trade and investment increase with every passing year.
You know that the global economic situation remains difficult, though it has improved. The G20 leaders will start discussing this subject tomorrow in Seoul. Our trade and economic relations also need to improve in quality and become more resistant to the kinds of crisis situations that can emerge. The current bilateral trade structure that we have is really quite vulnerable to the various crisis situations that develop from time to time.
After all, minerals and oil and gas products account for two thirds of Russia’s exports to the Republic of Korea. We will continue to supply these goods, of course, but our companies nonetheless should aim to diversify our trade.
As our colleagues have said, Russia is unquestionably interested in attracting South Korean investors, who not only help to create new jobs but, perhaps even more important today, bring with them modern technology and help to spread a modern production culture.
To name just a few of the big recent projects, there is the start of operations at the Hyundai Motor Company car assembly plant in St Petersburg, construction of a new shipyard with Daewoo Shipbuilding in Primorsky Territory, and joint plans to develop resources in Siberia and the Far East. We discussed these projects with our colleagues and the businesspeople just before in the back rooms.
”We are not just open to expanding trade but consider it equally important to learn from our partners and build modernisation alliances with them.“
We are not just open to expanding trade but consider it equally important to learn from our partners and build modernisation alliances with them. In this respect Korean companies have much experience in developing and commercialising applied technology, and Russia has a lot of fundamental developments, a lot of scientific advances that could be of interest overall for our partners.
Colleagues have already mentioned the sectors that could be especially rich in opportunities, taking Russia’s economic modernisation priorities into account. They include energy efficiency, medicine, space technology, computer technology, and nuclear technology.
We are ready to work together with our Korean friends in these and other sectors. The innovation centre at Skolkovo is one of the steps we are taking to speed up progress in these areas. What distinguishes the Skolkovo project?
Special rules will apply there, special tax, customs and immigration regulations, and I hope that South Korean high-tech companies will appreciate for themselves the advantages these special rules offer.
Friends and colleagues, I do indeed have a very busy agenda here today. Straight after this forum I will hold talks with President Lee Myung-bak. We plan to sign a large number of agreements, many of which are essentially business contracts and documents that will help to promote our business relations and that concern the economy in general.
I am sure that today’s meeting will enrich our cooperation with promising new ideas. I will not be able to hear most of the discussions here today, but we have someone here who comes to Korea once every 20 years. I am referring to Mr Alexander Shokhin [president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs]. He was the one who started this cooperation.
[Addressing Alexander Shokhin] I am sure that in 20 years time you will be able to come here again and worthily represent our interests.
I want to take this opportunity to invite all of you here to take part in our business forums, including the St Petersburg International Economic Forum next June. I hope to see many of you there.
Once again, I wish you successful work, good luck in all your endeavours, and sincere relations with your Russian colleagues.