President Vladimir Putin: Dear ladies and gentlemen! Dear Federal Chancellor! Dear Colleagues!
The leading entrepreneurs of Russia and Austria are gathered in this room. I know that many of you share long years of successful cooperation and have participated in projects in a wide variety of fields. And I sincerely wish that you can add to the experience that you’ve already accumulated and expand the horizons of your teamwork. The successful development of the Russian economy will strengthen confidence in cooperation.
We really are observing inflows of foreign capital. Just last year the total amount of Austrian capital investments into the Russian economy increased by 40 percent.
In general, those present today know the situation in the Russian economy. Over the last decade there has been constant capital outflow from Russia — somewhere around 15 to 25 billion USD per year. Last year there were net capital inflows for the first time, inflows of 41 billion USD. And now the net capital inflows in the first trimester of 2007 have amounted to 31 billion USD.
It is very good that we have created a reciprocal movement and mutual investments; Russian companies have begun investing in the Austrian economy. I think that our Austrian partners who are here today will confirm that the Russian market is more dynamic and more promising than a number of other markets. Economic growth in Russia has averaged 6,9 percent over the past six years and in the first trimester of 2007 it was 7,7 percent. Along with this the processing sectors of the Russian economy are growing. The oil and gas sector contributed only 1,6 percent to the 7,7 percent total. All other growth stems from services, construction, machine building and the chemical industry. Our macroeconomic indicators are improving. We have started to implement large-scale programmes to develop infrastructure and the high-tech sector of our economy. And we are interested in engaging in the most extensive possible international cooperation.
I think that my Austrian colleagues would agree with me: the total value of Russian investments in the Austrian economy has exceeded one billion dollars and therefore we can genuinely talk about the interdependence of our interests and our economies.
Austria has traditionally been one of Russia’s major economic partners. And the theme of our talks today was the prospects for expanding Russian-Austrian business ties.
Observers agree that in recent years these relations have developed very well. Our mutual trade grew by almost 50 percent and reached a record 5,19 billion dollars in 2006. More than 1200 Austrian companies operate in the Russian domestic market. More than half of Russia’s regions have established strong trade relations with Austria. And the Federal Chancellor and I agreed that the economic potential and positive business climate between Russian and Austria should produce more tangible results.
Today we discussed the prospects for Russia's WTO accession. I want to state and confirm that we are ready to continue on this path. We want to join the WTO on terms that are acceptable to us. And today I would like to say that our Austrian partners are no less interested — and perhaps more so — in Russia’s accession to the WTO than we are ourselves. We very much hope that we will soon be able to conclude the difficult negotiation process on this issue with both our European and our American partners.
Russian-Austrian cooperation in the energy sector holds strategic significance. Next year Gazprom and its Austrian partner, OMV, will celebrate the 40th anniversary of their business partnership. I shall recall that 40 years ago Austria was the first country to conclude a long-term agreement with Russia on deliveries of natural gas. And in September 2006 we extended the contract until 2027. Moreover, we were able to reach a mutually advantageous agreement about allowing Russian companies an outlet — the first time in Europe — to final consumers in several of Austria’s federal states. We did the same thing later on with other European partners, with both Germany and Italy.
Austria is a crucially important transit hub that manages approximately a third of the gas that Russia delivers to Europe. Throughout our years of cooperation about 450 billion cubic metres of gas have been pumped through the Baumgarten. It is a visible example of our shared contribution to energy security in Europe.
I would like to draw your attention to the fact that our partnership in this sector is stable, reliable and helps us guarantee reasonable prices on the European market. Russia acts very much as a partner in this regard. And only a third of the price you pay for gas goes to Russia. Two-thirds divided between revenues of Austrian companies, taxes, expenses, and transportation within Austria. And for that reason I would like to emphasise that the more extensive our cooperation is, the more stable and more profitable it will be for all participants.
Priority sectors for cooperation also include metallurgy, transportation, manufacturing components for cars, banking, and the infrastructure projects that I already mentioned. We also see significant prospects in innovation, in the high-tech sector and in environmental protection.
I am confident that during the forum you discussed specific issues and signed numerous agreements whose value is approximately three billion euros.
I will emphasise again that your direct dialogue is important not only in light of future dividends. The accumulated legacy of trust and partnership always has been and will remain a cornerstone of Russian-Austrian relations. And this legacy can work effectively for the well-being of our countries and peoples, and by enriching them with new commercial and communal endeavours. And I also consider that economic cooperation creates a very good foundation for developing relations in all directions, including in the cultural and educational spheres.
Thank you for your attention.