Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Naryshkin on the legal framework for the Eurasian Economic Community Customs Union
Sergei Naryshkin: A package of nine agreements was signed last Friday at a Eurasian Economic Community Intergovernmental Council meeting of heads of government. The signature of these agreements completes the formation of the legal framework for the Customs Union we are in the process of establishing within the Eurasian Economic Community. The documents in question are agreements on common customs tariff regulations, export duties on trade with third countries, non-tariff regulation measures with regard to third countries, and a number of other agreements.
These agreements establish a common set of rules for trade with third countries and stipulate a gradual transition of foreign trade regulation powers to the Customs Union Commission. We expect that, as the work programme that was signed by the heads of government on October 6 is implemented, countries that are still observing for now – Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – could also decide to join the Customs Union and sign these documents.
Simultaneously, we are working on the documents that will lay the foundations for the next stage in integration, that of establishing the common economic area. The structure of these documents has already been organised – 26 draft agreements that are in the process of preparation. Agreement has already been reached on six of these documents and work continues.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on an upcoming meeting of the Russian and Belarusian Foreign Ministries’ Bureaus
Sergei Lavrov: The bureaus of the Russian and Belarusian Foreign Ministries will hold a joint meeting tomorrow and the day after tomorrow in accordance with the agreements reached at the Union State summit. This is a mechanism for coordinating our foreign policy work. The main item on the agenda will be approving the new two-year joint foreign policy work programme. We will also discuss current cooperation issues, including as concerns our work together in international organisations such as the United Nations, OSCE and the Council of Europe.
Economic Development and Trade Minister Elvira Nabiullina on macroeconomic development results and the upcoming signature between the Kaluga Region government and Peugeot-Citroen on construction of a car plant
Elvira Nabiullina: We have received the results for December 2007 and this enables us to adjust the final development assessments for the year.
Our forecasts were insufficiently optimistic. To give a few key figures, GDP grew by 8.4 percent in December 2007 compared to the same period in 2006, and this will perhaps make it possible to revise the year’s results upwards. We had forecast a figure of from 7.6 percent to up to 7.7 or 7.8 percent. The retail sector posted high growth in December – up 16.7 percent. This indicates an increase in household consumption and it is this consumer optimism that is supporting our economy.
Investment increased by 24 percent in December 2007 compared to December 2006. We have adjusted the investment growth figure for the year from 20 percent to 21.1 percent.
Industry continues to show steady growth: up 6.5 percent in December. The processing sector and the construction industry have also continued their rapid growth and were up 20 percent in December. New housing with a total area of 60.4 million square metres was brought onto the market in 2007, representing an increase of almost 10 million square metres. The total figure for 2006 was 50.6 million square metres.
Overall, the dynamic remains positive. This is in contrast, of course, with what is happening on the world financial markets.
President Vladimir Putin: I saw that all the markets were down yesterday, except the Russian market, which was up 2.2 percent.
Elvira Nabiullina: These results indicate that the fundamental factors driving the Russian economy’s growth are strong enough to maintain growth and give us hope that Russia’s markets will prove sufficiently resistant to the global financial crisis.
Elvira Nabiullina: An agreement is due to be signed tomorrow at the Economic Development and Trade Ministry between the Kaluga Region government and Peugeot-Citroen on the construction of a new car plant. The plant will manufacture the mid-price Peugeot-307 and Citroen-S4 models. This is a major investment project.
It is expected that 300 million euros will be invested in this project, which will create 2,600 jobs. This will offer people an additional source of highly-qualified work. The plant is expected to be completed by 2010 and, running at maximum design capacity, will produce 75,000 competitive cars a year.
We have already got 23 running projects; eight plants have already started assembly operations. 288.5 thousand new cars were manufactured in 2007. Those are very nice, competitive cars.
Regional Development Minister Dmitry Kozak on government approvals for a number of investment projects
Dmitry Kozak: The government approved the passports for three big investment projects last week. First of all is the southern Yakutia development project, which will use public and private sector investment to develop this region’s transport and energy infrastructure. Approval was also confirmed for the Industrial Urals – Polar Urals project to develop the eastern side of the Urals range. This project also involves investment in transport infrastructure development, eliminating infrastructure bottlenecks and developing minerals deposits in the eastern Urals region.
The third project to be approved was the construction of a toll road between St Petersburg and Moscow. This project is also very important in terms of eliminating the infrastructure bottlenecks we have today. The existing roads are not equipped to handle the freight flows in direction of St Petersburg and the ports of the Gulf of Finland.
Each of these projects meets the requirements that have been set for effectiveness and each will make a contribution of more than 0.1 percent to GDP growth. We expect that these projects will create more than 70,000 jobs between them.
Vladimir Putin: It is clear that we need to decide on our biggest priorities. We cannot have more projects than the state has money to fund them. Or we have to use other instruments, bring in business and get private capital involved. I hope that your ministry and the other agencies, under the Prime Minister’s leadership, will take a highly balanced approach to these projects’ selection.