President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Madam Federal Chancellor, Prime Minister of the Land of Lower Saxony, ladies and gentlemen, friends,
First of all, I want to say thank you for inviting Russia to be the main partner of the renowned Hannover Messe, which has been a successful annual event for more than 60 years now. We see in this a sign of the particular attention that Germany gives to developing mutually advantageous bilateral cooperation with Russia, and also a high assessment of our country’s potential and achievements in industry, science and technology.
Russia has already had a special place at the Hannover Messe before. As the Federal Chancellor and I recalled just now, this was back in 2005. Over the eight years that have passed since then much has changed in the global and the Russian economies. Despite the global difficulties and financial crisis, Russia is still on a growth track in its development.
Russia’s GDP grew by 3.4 percent last year. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates – 5.5 percent. Our sovereign debt comes to a moderate level of around 10 percent, and our foreign debt is only 2.5 percent of GDP. We have a stable high amount of gold and foreign currency reserves that give us a solid base for confidence. Our foreign trade is growing and last year it reached $865 billion. We had $845 billion in 2011. The trade balance surplus came to $195 billion in 2012.
”Events such as the Hannover Messe, where we can present our achievements, see the achievements of our German partners, and meet with colleagues from dozens of other countries, are very important.“
Our financial system is growing stronger and our investment climate is improving. We are aware of our problems but are taking targeted action to address them, including inflation, which is still at a high level. Inflation was around 6.2–6.3 percent last year, and will be slightly higher this year. We are already aware of this, but are taking concerted steps to bring down the inflation rate. We will continue these efforts and hopefully with success. I might point out here that inflation is now at its lowest in Russia for the last 20 years.
We have good results in the social sector, and this is also important for economic growth. I told the Federal Chancellor just before that the birth rate in Russia is at its highest now for the last 19 years. This reflects the mood in society and has an impact on all areas of life, including labour productivity. Labour productivity is one of the areas where we do unfortunately still have problems to address, but we have made plans that will considerably improve the situation in this area over the next 5–15 years. In this context, events such as the Hannover Messe, where we can present our achievements, see the achievements of our German partners, and meet with colleagues from dozens of other countries, are very important.
New opportunities are emerging for business cooperation too. The recently established Customs Union and the Common Economic Space between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan offer just such opportunities. Ladies and gentlemen, our business partners from Germany can make full use of the advantages this integration offers: a big market of 165 million consumers and free movement of goods, services, and capital.
What’s more, the Eurasian integration organisations’ legal base is harmonised with WTO regulations. Russia has been a full member of the WTO since August 2012, and in this regard I take this opportunity to once again thank our European partners, including the German leadership, for their constant support for Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organisation. This means that foreign companies can work throughout the Customs Union area under clear and familiar rules and regulations.
”The recently established Customs Union and the Common Economic Space between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan offer new opportunities for business cooperation. Our business partners from Germany can make full use of the advantages this integration offers: a big market of 165 million consumers and free movement of goods, services, and capital.“
Ladies and gentlemen, the global and European economies are still unstable, unfortunately. Mutual trust and coordination of our various countries’ economic policies are therefore more important than ever, as are efforts to build up direct dialogue between business circles. It is very good to see that Russia and Germany have worked in just such a spirit of partnership over these years, and this is why we have achieved such solid results.
Our bilateral trade reached a record mark of $74 billion last year. I am sure that we have the capability to take it to $100 billion in the near future. More than 6,000 German companies work in Russia. Total German accumulated investment comes to around $25 billion. These are very good results. Russian capital is also expanding its presence in the German economy. Our companies invested $4.4 billion in the German economy over the last year alone. We also continue to develop our bilateral ties in the humanitarian sphere, culture and education, and youth exchanges. There are numerous opportunities for developing ties between our regions.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are not just words. These figures represent prosperity for millions of people in both countries. In Germany, 700,000 jobs are in one way or another related to direct production of goods to be sold on the Russian market. Russia and Germany have been successfully carrying out reciprocal year-long programmes of events under the theme Building the Future Together in 2012–2013. The big Russian exhibition here at the Hannover Messe is one of the main events in this bilateral programme.
This has given us the chance to present Russian industry and science’s current and future achievements and directions and reaffirm our commitment to close cooperation with our partners in Germany and elsewhere. The heads of 160 Russian companies and research organisations representing a broad range of economic sectors from energy sector and engineering to nano- and biotechnology have come here to Hannover.
Russia’s regions have also shown great interest in taking part in the fair. Our cooperation experience with Germany shows very convincingly that cooperation between the regions is an effective means of developing bilateral ties. Twenty-three Russian regions and 14 German Länder have established partnerships with each other.
I am sure that Russia’s participation as the fair’s main partner will give a big boost to deepening Russian-German business ties and will encourage the launch of promising new joint projects. I want to stress once again that Russia is open for mutually advantageous cooperation. Working together, we will be sure to achieve success.
Thank you for your attention.