President Vladimir Putin: Ladies and gentlemen,
I am very glad to meet you, especially here in Bangalore, which has become a symbol of the modern Indian economy. It is an economy that is developing dynamically, is open to the world, and creates competitive high-technology products.
I must say that we are very pleased by India’s success. Production is growing at a fast rate, and the Indian information technology sector has become of world significance. Your country is involved in space activity, and has good plans in this sphere. I saw this once more when I visited one of our joint factories. India is developing its own atomic industry. And we also cooperate actively. Today, India is among the top ten countries in the world in a whole series of economic indicators.
You undoubtedly know that Russia today is also consistently following a policy to create favourable conditions for the development of the economy, and of course the social sphere. Two thirds of the country’s working population already work in the private sector. And we believe that entrepreneurial activity is a fundamental factor for the development of the Russian economy.
As was already mentioned here, this year Russia’s GDP increased by about 6.7%. This is not just the case for this year, but for the last four years our economy has been developing at these rates – about 7% a year. Investment in primary capital comes to around 11%, and export has grown by 32%. The gold and currency reserves have increased by more than 10 times over the last four years, and will come to about $120 billion by the end of the year.
Clearly, the new possibilities and needs of the dynamically growing economies in Russia and India also demand a new quality of trade and economic partnership.
The volume of trade turnover – which is currently about $2 billion for the first nine months of this year – is increasing at a good rate, but in absolute values we cannot be happy with it. And from both sides, raw materials predominate in trade.
The basis for joint breakthrough solutions has been laid. There is a wide-format basis of legal agreements. I would add that our business circles know each other well and have considerable experience of working together. And most importantly, we do not have disagreement in political issues, and firm intergovernmental ties have been established. And our readiness to assist economic cooperation, to remove barriers to business initiatives, is clearly reflected in the joint political declaration passed during the visit.
We just talked about the necessity of improving the business environment, and removing obstacles, including visa obstacles. The Indian Prime Minister and I came to an agreement that we will solve these issues soon, and make additional agreements which remove these barriers. I think that an important stimulus to expanding economic partnership will be given by developing the infrastructure of Russian-Indian trade and economic and scientific and technical cooperation. An infrastructure that matches the market status of our economies and is as favourable and comfortable as possible for private capital.
I believe that the Prime Minister’s decision to recognise the market status of the Russian economy is absolutely in keeping with considerations of improving our cooperation. I hope that this will be the case.
Above all, this involves joint work in the financial sphere. A series of document have already been signed at this summit on long-term cooperation of leading credit and financial organisations of Russia and India.
We will continue to improve and find new financial and payment and account tools to service mutual trade and investments, and to provide reliable mechanisms of inter-bank and credit accounts.
As I have already said, one of the key tasks is to gradually increase the portion of high-technology goods and services. I am certain that the future will see intense development of investment, production, scientific and technological cooperation.
I expect that investing part of Indian debt in joint enterprises in Russia and India may have a serious result. We talked about this in detail with our colleagues during our high-level meeting. If anyone present in this hall was at a similar meeting two years ago, we also talked about this. I can tell you quite honestly that the main barrier to solving this task was the position of our Finance Ministry, which like any Finance Ministry likes to receive money, especially if it falls from the sky. But now the situation in the Russian economy has changed, and the situation with the budget has changed. This is the most convenient opportunity to begin joint work. I want to tell you right now, and I hope for your support – we would like for these funds to be invested in the most liberal way in the Indian economy, so they are not restricted only to joint enterprises that are specified administratively, so we can invest this money in the most attractive areas of the Indian economy. I think that that would be fair.
I am certain that we have to be bolder in setting tasks to realise projects in basic electronics, information technology, telecommunications, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals. There are major prospects in space, atomic energy, machine and technical production for the coal industry, and metallurgy.
This approach will lay the foundations for diversifying Russian and Indian export, and for putting new high-technology products on the world market.
It is with pleasure that I note the growing intensity of our cooperation in the high-technology sphere over the past few years. One of our projects planned is founding an international institute of information technology in Moscow. Cooperation will develop on this basis to advance information technology education.
I also note the productive activity of the Russian-Indian centre of leading computer research, which makes fundamental and applied research, using leading computer technology. A joint project to create the super computer Padma-Ru has begun, and also training and work with young scientists on innovation projects.
Quite recently, in November, the 10th Russian-Indian work group on information technology was held. One of the issues on the agenda was creating and developing technology parks to support middle and small information technology businesses. I think that the experience of the Indian Government in creating special zones with favourable conditions for taxation and a good investment climate would also be very useful for Russia. I won’t hide it; it is no secret that there have long been disputes on this issue in our Government. Economists with very liberal views believe that it is not right to create any privileges for any sector of the economy at all. But India has used these methods, and received real benefits from this experiment. I think that our specialists could also pay attention to what is going on in practice.
There is also major potential for bilateral cooperation in creating programs and selling them on the markets of third-party countries. Our Indian partners may be interested in Russian expertise in the sphere of information security, which has already been acknowledged internationally.
As far as I know, all these topics were discussed in detail recently at the round table meeting on information technology in Bangalore, with the participation of the leading companies of the two countries. The fact this meeting was held shows the mutual interest in increasing Russian-Indian partnership in the information technology sphere. During the meeting, business representatives of both countries formulated specific proposals. They will undoubtedly be examined and supported at state level.
Wide horizons are opened by our cooperation in infrastructure projects. Among them are the international transport corridor North-South. This corridor has the potential to become one of the fundamental constructions in the economic and integration architecture of the gigantic Eurasian area.
Russia plans to participate in realising Indian projects in creating civil aviation, road and railway construction, and transportation of hydrocarbons. And the transportation of hydrocarbons will be both national and part of international projects. It is well known that Russian companies have excellent capabilities in construction, reconstruction and modernisation of energy and hydroenergy objects, and in delivering equipment for energy projects to India.
On the whole, Russia is prepared to make a contribution to ensuring the energy stability of the growing Indian economy, which is in need of energy. As you know, realisation of these projects is already underway. Russian companies are conducting exploration work in the shelf zone of the Bay of Bengal, and are continuing to work on reanimating idle wells in the state of Assam. At the same time, our Indian partners are taking part in developing oil fields in Sakhalin, and are showing an interest in other works of this nature, and will meet with the support of administrative bodies in Russia.
In summary, I would like to stress: the potential of trade and economic partnership, and scientific and technical partnership between Russia and India is very large, and so far, as I already said at the beginning, it is not fully used. I want to wish our Russian and Indian colleagues success in making use of this potential for the good of our countries and peoples.
Thank you very much.