President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr President, colleagues,
I am pleased to have the opportunity, together with our friend Mr Erdogan, to meet again with leading members of Russian and Turkish business communities.
Just now, at a meeting of the High-Level Cooperation Council, we reviewed in detail current issues relating to relations between Russia and Turkey, including, of course, the dynamic economic cooperation between our countries.
I would like to note that Russia and Turkey are key partners in trade and investment. Last year, bilateral trade increased by 16 percent, reaching $25.5 billion.
We have achieved good results in agriculture. In 2018, trade in this sector was up 7 percent, reaching $3 billion.
Mutual investment stands at about $20 billion.
Today, the Russian Direct Investment Fund will sign an agreement with the Turkish sovereign wealth fund on creating a joint investment platform of $1 billion to be invested in promising sectors of the two countries’ economies.
Russia appreciates that Turkish investors are taking an interest in our market. In recent years, Turkish companies have discovered business opportunities in many regions of Russia, including Vladimir, Penza and Kaluga regions and Krasnodar and Stavropol territories.
There is also potential to develop cooperation with the Republic of Crimea. Vacant niches are being quickly filled there, including by foreign investors.
Probably, Turkish companies have invested the bulk of the capital – about $2 billion – in the economy of Tatarstan, primarily at the Alabuga Special Economic Zone, along with the participation of the holding companies Hayat and Coskunoz and the Sisecam Group. Glass, plastics and household chemical manufacturing plants have been established, which are large even by European standards.
Russia and Turkey maintain close cooperation in energy. Flagship projects include the TurkStream pipeline and the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant. These projects are being carried out in full conformity with the endorsed plans, and I am confident that both will be put into operation on schedule.
Russian companies like Lukoil and Rosneft have earned a good reputation in the Turkish market. Power Machines is taking part in modernising Turkish hydroelectric power stations. United Engine Corporation is spending quite a bit of money and effort to ensure the reliable operation of the Turkish gas transit infrastructure.
In turn, Turkish builders are active in the Russian market. They have fulfilled about 2,000 contracts with a total value of some $70 billion.
Turkish companies helped build the facilities for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The business circles of the two countries have a lot of potential in high-tech, pharmaceuticals, agricultural and transport equipment manufacturing, ship and aircraft construction, as well as the development and launching of space vehicles.
I would like to emphasise that we in Russia are and will be doing everything necessary for foreign companies, including Turkish firms to feel as comfortable and stable in the Russian market as possible, without being subjected to excessive administrative burdens.
Russia is already 31st in the ease of doing business rankings by the World Bank. We moved up several dozen positions in just five years.
All macroeconomic indicators retain positive dynamics in Russia. Last year our GDP increased by 2.3 percent while industrial production growth went up by almost 3 percent. All this allows foreign companies to work steadily and to make long-term plans in Russia.
Hundreds of billions of dollars will be invested in critical economic and social sectors as part of our national programmes. Once implemented, they will open major prospects for foreign, particularly Turkish, businesses.
It is in our interest to create the necessary conditions for your work, and it is in your interest to implement these projects and make a profit from doing so. We will do our best to support you.
The companies you represent have considerable hands-on experience in implementing major joint projects, and, I believe, are interested in building up trade and investment ties.
Therefore, I propose having a detailed and candid discussion of the issues that are of concern to the Turkish and Russian business communities. Of course, it is important for us to hear what you have to say about additional steps that the government should take in order to boost business contacts even further.
I would also like to take this opportunity to invite business people from Turkey, who are always widely represented at the St Petersburg Economic Forum, to take an active part in it this year as well. The forum will be held in St Petersburg on June 6–8.
Thank you for your time, and I am pleased to give the floor to the President of the Republic of Turkey.
President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan (retranslated): Dear friend, President Putin, ministers and representatives of the Turkish-Russian business forum,
Greetings from the bottom of my heart.
As you are aware, Mr Putin and I co-chaired the 8th meeting of the High-Level Cooperation Council today, and I am very pleased to have the opportunity to be here with you now.
I would like our meeting to be effective and useful. I want to thank you for your hospitality on my own behalf and on behalf of all our country’s representatives.
Expanding our dialogue with Russia has been very beneficial for us. Ever since the 1990s, economic and trade relations have become the driver behind Russia-Turkey relations. Today, we have discussed trade, economic and cultural relations, as well as our contacts in all other areas at the delegation level.
In addition, Mr Putin and I have been considering the idea of working together with the business community for a long time now. There is such an opportunity today. This is our way of showing support for the business community.
About 1,300 representatives of our business community are here, strengthening our ties. We will be working together with all our agencies to resolve any problems (first identify them, and then deal with them).
Russia is our third largest trade partner. We have reached $26 billion in mutual trade, but of course, this figure is too small. We are trading in finished products, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, mechanical engineering products – all of those are well represented. But even in these industries, the level of Russian imports into our country is very low.
My dear friend and I have already set a target benchmark of $100 billion, and so we need to find new approaches. Today we talked about this. All of our ministries have already been given the appropriate instructions to increase trade with Russia.
First, we have transport and visa issues. Work is certainly underway on these tracks. We expect that Turkish firms will soon enjoy the terms now provided to third-country firms.
Turkish builders have been establishing a firm presence here since the 1990s. They have implemented as many as 1,961 projects worth $73 billion. Our construction industry plays a major role in the Russian economy. Then there is investment in the Russian economy. Here we expect the Russian media to provide wider support.
In the same way, Russia has invested $10 billion in our country –in petrochemical and other advanced technologies. All this seriously influences the Turkish economy.
We are ready to provide preferential treatment options for Russian businesses. We are not treating your firms as foreign or Russian investors, but regard them as our own, our local firms.
Energy cooperation is among the most important of economic processes. The Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, and the TurkStream and Blue Stream pipelines are strategic items in our long-term plans. Our target by the end of the year is to finish the onshore section of the TurkStream.
It would also be good to convert financial settlements between us to national currencies as soon as possible so we can be protected against foreign exchange market fraud.
We are ready to address issues of providing the necessary benefits, so all we want now is to hear about your problems and to exchange information.
Once again, I would like to thank Mr President and greet everyone with all my heart.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you, Mr President.