Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref on macroeconomic results for the first quarter of 2007
German Gref: Results for some macroeconomic indicators, including GDP growth, have not been fully summarised yet, but we already have preliminary figures for industrial output in the first quarter and for the month of March. Industrial output rose by 8.4 percent in the first quarter and by 7.9 percent in March, as compared to March 2006. Compared with February 2007, and taking into account seasonal factors, industrial output growth was 1 percent in March. For comparison, industrial output was up 8.4 percent in the first quarter of this year, and 3 percent over the first quarter of 2006. In other words, the growth rate is more than twice as high this year.
Positive trends are visible above all in the processing sectors, which saw growth of 12.5 percent in March and 14.5 percent overall in the first quarter.
The mining and extraction sectors showed growth of 3.8 percent in March and 4.2 percent for the first quarter overall.
Heat and electricity production was down by 96.2 percent in March compared to the same period last year, and down by 94.3 percent for the first quarter overall, but this is due, of course, above all to natural factors, to the weather conditions.
Oil production was up by 3.9 percent in March and by 4.2 percent for the first quarter overall. Gas production rose by 1.2 percent in March and showed an overall increase of 0.3 percent for the first quarter.
Inflation was at 3.5 percent in the first quarter compared to 5 percent for the first quarter last year. In other words, inflation is lower by 1.5 percent than in the first quarter of 2006.
We also have data for the period from April 1–9, 2007. Inflation came to 0.2 percent. Inflation for the whole of April last year was at 0.4 percent. The dynamic is slightly higher for the first ten days of April 2007 compared to April 2006, and this is due to foodstuffs.
Another very significant event took place on Friday, April 13, when the RTS index broke the important psychological barrier of 2000 points. The index has now passed beyond that point and is continuing to rise. Overall, the market suffered a serious fall during the first months of this year, but it is now recovering and has grown by a total of more than 4 percent overall since the beginning of the year. This is also a positive result and we hope this trend will continue.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on his upcoming visits to Spain, Serbia, and Montenegro
President Vladimir Putin: Sergei Viktorovich [Lavrov], you have some visits scheduled this week. What are your plans?
Sergei Lavrov: I will be visiting three countries. First is an official visit to Spain where the main objective is to examine progress in implementing the agreements reached during your visit there, the results of your talks with the King and the Prime Minister. A number of events has also been planned to mark the thirtieth anniversary of diplomatic relations between our countries. Furthermore, Spain currently holds the presidency of the OSCE and we have outlined a substantial discussion on ways to reform this organisation in accordance with the initiative put forward by Russia and a number of other countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States. Aside from all of this, as a member of NATO and the European Union, Spain is one of our traditional partners in discussions on international and European security. I think that in light of recent events, this will be a very important discussion.
After this, I will be going to Belgrade to take part in a ministerial meeting of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organisation. The meeting’s main purpose is to prepare for the summit of this organisation, of which Russia is one of the principle founders. The summit will take place in Istanbul at the end of June. Serbia has succeeded Russia as presiding country in the organisation, and it is important now for us to examine how the projects approved during Russia’s presidency, especially transport and energy infrastructure development projects in the Black Sea region, are being implemented.
Finally, I will be heading to Montenegro, where, as in Serbia, we plan to discuss a number of trade, economic and investment projects and also projects in the humanitarian sphere, in culture, science and education.
Of course, in Belgrade and in Podgorica we also discuss Kosovo and look at the situation unfolding there now, including in the context of the implementation this month of Russia’s initiative to send a UN Security Council mission to examine the situation in Kosovo firsthand on the ground.
Vladimir Putin: As far as I recall, the majority of Security Council members backed this initiative.
Sergei Lavrov: It now has the backing of all the Security Council members. Even those who had doubts at first have now agreed.
Vladimir Putin: And when will this commission go there?
Sergei Lavrov: The mission will begin next week.
Vladimir Putin: It will be examining the implementation of Resolution 1244, is that correct?
Sergei Lavrov: Yes, it will be looking at all the different aspects.
Vladimir Putin: Including the return home of refugees?
Sergei Lavrov: Of course. This is one of the resolution’s main points.