Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon dear colleagues, dear ladies and gentlemen!
I am glad to be able to welcome you to the 10 th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Every year the number of participants and guests of the Forum grows. The Forum is becoming more and more of a reference for experts, politicians, and for all those who are interested in the various ways to ensure social and economic development in Russia and in the countries of the former Soviet Union. Profound and substantial discussions on both the Russian and the global economy are taking place here.
The forum traditionally attracts visitors from the highest levels of government. And today I am very glad to be able to greet heads of state and of government taking part in this event. Thank you very much for coming here and being with us today.
Ladies and gentlemen!
Nobody doubts that Russia is an international leader as regards economic growth. The volume of GDP calculated at purchasing power parity exceeds one and a half trillion dollars. We do not require any more foreign loans. We are repaying our debts on time and even in advance payments. Moreover, this year the volume of gold and currency reserves can exceed the volume of the combined state and private external debts. In economic jargon this is referred to as the clearing balance and of course this attracts investments to our economy, both national and foreign investments. Foreign investors are coming to Russia with long-term plans. They are establishing new companies, creating jobs and introducing new technologies. And in 2005 for the first time in modern Russia’s history the inflow of private capital exceeded outflows.
Simultaneously Russian companies have become full participants in international cooperation and are already starting to invest their capital in major international projects. This is more than just an indicator of the competitiveness of our national companies; it is also proof of their profitability and aspirations to conform to international standards concerning management and transparency.
Meanwhile, being competitive on a global scale is impossible without establishing a competitive environment in Russia itself. We understand this perfectly and are creating all necessary conditions for developing entrepreneurship. These conditions include more effective cooperation between the public and private sectors.
I will point out that new possibilities have opened up for businessmen. I am referring to the special economic zones, concessions and other instruments that the Russian government is using and offering as a way to help business develop. First and foremost this concerns implementing projects in infrastructure. Here we are extraordinarily interested in consultations and in exchanging experiences with our colleagues from other countries and attracting them to work on Russian territory.
The exhibitions being held within this Forum are also helping achieve this. The Russian regions are also presenting their exhibits here and are showing off the large investment possibilities that exist.
I would like to emphasize that foreign investments in Russia, both direct and portfolio investments, now amount to 112 billion dollars. I hope that major corporations will continue to implement their projects in our country. And as Russia attracts foreign capital onto its market it will try to improve its business climate and create favourable conditions for cooperation.
In connection with this I would like to mention one theme which perhaps gives cause for concern. It is well-known that far from all countries, even developed ones, are able to create transparent procedures that allow foreign investors to enter their economy. This is often connected to the need to ensure national security. We are also looking for well-balanced approaches to resolve this difficult problem. And we think that first and foremost our economy must be absolutely open and transparent. And any restrictions for investors linked to ensuring our national security must be also as transparent as possible. It is important that no unreasonable barriers to the work of foreign investors be created under the auspices of ensuring national security.
And I hope that this will proceed the same way in other countries so that Russian investors do not face similar problems abroad. And that precise rules for making investments in strategic sectors will be established.
I would like to emphasize that our successes today constitute the basis for our future development. Of course a great deal of systematic problems remain unresolved within the Russian economy. I am referring to high inflation, monopolies in a number of sectors of the economy, bureaucratic obstacles and, unfortunately, corruption. However, I am confident that our economy’s steady growth and our perseverance in resolving the problems that stand before us will allow Russia to claim a worthy place in international division of labour.
It is well known that we have defined several priority sectors that already today have obvious advantages and preconditions for accelerated development. These sectors are energy, communications, the space sector, aviation, and the export of intellectual services. But the most important thing, and this is incontestable, lies in that special, unique capital that is neither machines, nor natural resources but simply the country’s citizens. It is them who are ensuring economic growth, developing natural resources, making complex mechanisms work and discovering new technologies.
As you know part of the Forum’s agenda consists in looking for answers to the challenges posed by today’s global economic development. And it is obvious that is necessary to react to these challenges through joint efforts. First and foremost I am referring to the international financial system destabilization, overcoming serious discrepancies in the development of the richest and poorest countries and ensuring global security, including energy security. It is obvious that Russia is able to make an important contribution towards resolving these problems. Russia has already proven herself to be a responsible and reliable partner.
In conclusion I would like to say that as an active participant in building international procedures Russia intends to put forward its candidature to host the Universal Exposition in 2015.
When organizing Expo 2015 Russia can generate new ways to promote cooperation at the global level. We are ready for such work. And it is possible that we discuss these plans today. I want to wish you successful work and to thank the organizers and, once again, our guests.
Thank you very much for your attention.