Dmitry Medvedev: Dear friends, Governor of Rio de Janeiro, Governor of Sao Paulo, colleagues and friends from Brazil and Russia.
I am happy to have this opportunity to visit Brazil and to address this audience of people upon whose success the success of the country as a whole essentially depends.
Life is made up not only of good events but also of difficult moments, and I therefore want to begin my speech today by expressing my condolences to all of our Brazilian friends for the recent floods that have caused loss of life.
Our relations today could be defined as strategic, a strategic partnership: both countries are following a similar development scenario and provide convincing examples of how modern states can develop. Both countries are becoming leaders in economic growth.
I am sure that nothing can stop us in this, not even the global economic crisis that has emerged of late. In this sense, much depends on our countries today, and our cooperation is important. I met with the Brazilian President in Washington recently and we talked about how to overcome the difficulties we face together, and we will of course continue these discussions here.
Russia is ready for this kind of cooperation. We think that overall, over these last ten years, big changes have taken place in every sector of our economy. Despite the latest difficulties, we have maintained a decent level of economic growth and we expect a figure of around 7 percent this year, although we all face a number of difficulties ahead.
Russia has had a double surplus since 2001 – a budget surplus and a balance of payments surplus. Our main task now is to keep hold of the possibilities we have created for ourselves, and prepare for the problems on the financial markets that have started gathering pace of late.
Brazil’s economic development depends on you here today. Of course, we hope that our economy will also overcome the current problems. I say this all the more so given the way our countries’ economies are developing. I visited Petrobras today and noted that in principle, we face very similar problems, but we also have very good prospects.
I want to stress that the priorities our country named earlier remain in place. We will continue to work on creating a new and innovative economy, while at the same time also paying attention to sectors of strategic importance for Russia such as energy and machine-building.
We will fulfil all of our social obligations, continue budget reform, and generally work on all of the priorities that we set. I think this is very important for building bilateral relations too.
Russia and Brazil are significant partners. Brazil is Russia’s biggest trading partner in Latin America. Our bilateral trade reached a figure of $5 billion in 2007, and we have seen growth over this year too. I hope that we will bring this figure close to $10 billion over the next few years.
We have a good level of cooperation, but this does not mean that now we can sit back and relax. There are many interesting projects ahead, although the structure of our trade is not perhaps optimal at the moment, for the Russian Federation in any case.
I hope to discuss this with our Brazilian colleagues, and I will discuss this matter with the President of Brazil. We would like to improve and optimise our trade structure. Most importantly, we want to expand our trade relations to cover the high technology sectors, new industrial ventures, and major energy projects, and we have the potential to achieve all of this.
There are other areas of interest too, areas where we can exchange experience and carry out joint projects. These include the space sector, aviation, the defence industry and the nuclear energy sector. These are areas where we have things to discuss and we have opportunities for coming up with interesting new projects.
The energy sector is a special case for cooperation of course. The results are still few for now, but the potential is huge. We can work together on building infrastructure and developing new deposits in Russia and Brazil. I think the issue here is more one of calculating the costs, working out the effectiveness and reliability of the different ideas and projects.
What is good to see in any case is that Gazprom, our biggest gas and oil company, will open an office in Rio de Janeiro at the start of next year. This is a first step towards developing just this kind of cooperation.
In general, we need to move from simple exchange of goods (when we buy something from Brazil, and Brazil, in lesser amounts, it is true, buys something from Russia) to more technological projects, projects with a higher added value. We need to develop processing enterprises. There are already some examples: not so long ago, a year ago, a plant producing prepared meat products, built with the help of Brazilian capital, began operations in Kaliningrad.
If we want to develop our cooperation as fully as possible we also need to develop the infrastructure. By this I mean the financial and taxation infrastructure. In this respect, we need to work towards signing a convention (and making sure it comes into force) to avoid double taxation, and we also need to set up the banking and financial infrastructure and activate ties between our banking sectors. I hope also to see the Russian and Brazilian Business Council step up its activities. We would like to see its work become more regular and dynamic.
Brazil and Russia are both fast growing countries today with similar goals, and we even choose to work together through the same groups. I am thinking here of the BRIC group of countries. Of course, the success of our countries and peoples depends on how we go about our work and how closely we can cooperate.
Once again, I would like to thank everyone here today for their interest in the Russian Federation.