President of Russia Vladimir Putin: President Bolsonaro, Prime Minister Modi, President Xi Jinping, President Ramaphosa, forum participants, ladies and gentlemen,
I would like to begin by greeting everyone present here, and I certainly agree with the assessments by the heads of state who spoke earlier that the BRICS Business Forum is making a tangible practical contribution to our joint efforts to promote mutual trade and investment, as well as ties between our economies. This is also confirmed by the results of the current forum.
Our hosts have just noted that over 1,000 people took part in the work. We discussed many interesting projects and many promising agreements were reached. It is now time to implement them. In turn, we are ready to assist entrepreneurs in every way.
Of course, all of us know that the global economic situation remains complicated. Global growth rates have been subsiding since early 2018. The International Monetary Fund predicts that this year growth rates will hit a ten-year low. Indeed, our colleagues who have spoken here are noting aptly that BRICS countries are making a weighty contribution to maintaining economic growth.
The more frequent use of unfair competition methods in global trade, as well as unilateral sanctions, including politically motivated sanctions and rampant protectionism, have undoubtedly impacted the economy. In these conditions, BRICS countries have to exert serious efforts in order to ensure the development of their own economies, and to prevent an aggravation of the social situation and a decline in living standards and the well-being of our countries’ citizens.
We have conducted a balanced macroeconomic policy in Russia for years with a responsible attitude to state funds. We are maintaining the stability of the banking and lending markets, and trying to help strengthen the main economic sectors. Thanks to these efforts, we have prevented the national economy from sliding into a recession. Of course, we do not regard the current GDP growth rate as sufficient, which is why we are trying to create the most comfortable conditions possible for new investments, doing our best to simplify regulatory norms and developing a modern infrastructure.
In October of this year, the World Bank again upgraded its assessment of the business and investment climate in Russia. Our investment attractiveness, including the securities market, is improving. Based on the results of the first quarter of 2019, foreign investment in federal bonds has increased by nearly $4 billion.
Russia is an active member of international trade. We are expanding mutually beneficial ties with other countries, primarily our BRICS partners. In 2018, our trade with the BRICS countries increased by 22.5 percent to more than $125 billion.
We are promoting industrial cooperation within BRICS and creating modern technological and investment alliances, primarily in science-intensive spheres. One of the positive examples of this cooperation is the joint implementation together with our BRICS partners of projects in aircraft and rocket manufacturing, healthcare, pharmaceuticals and space exploration. There is potential for building up our interaction in the field of ICT.
We invite the BRICS countries to take a look at our new achievements in electronic document management, search systems and antivirus software, which meet the highest data security requirements. We can offer them to our BRICS partners.
I would like to remind you that Russia has proposed launching a data exchange system for small and medium-sized businesses within BRICS. This would allow our businesses to receive the latest information about goods, services and suppliers and to look for new partners.
The energy sector is one of the high-priority cooperation spheres for our five countries. Russia ensures reliable fuel and energy deliveries to global markets and makes a substantial contribution to maintaining global energy security, without which it would be impossible to ensure economic growth and social development.
We are ready to expand collaboration with the BRICS countries in using environmentally friendly fuel. Promising aspects of our joint work include production of renewable energy sources, efforts to boost energy efficiency and the use of natural gas as a motor fuel.
I must also point out that Russia has the most advanced, cleanest and safest civilian nuclear technology. We are successfully expanding cooperation in this area with our BRICS partners, primarily the People’s Republic of China and India. We can offer mutually beneficial nuclear power industry projects to all other BRICS countries as well.
Colleagues, Russia will assume the presidency of BRICS next year. It goes without saying that we will prioritise matters of further expanding intra-BRICS trade and investment collaboration.
First of all, we are planning to propose that BRICS countries update the Economic Partnership Strategy, which was adopted at the 2015 summit in Russia. It would be appropriate to think what new goals our association should set, and what truly large-scale joint tasks in trade, finance and investment we should focus on. Of course, we will use all the constructive ideas and proposals that have been submitted by the BRICS Business Council, the New Development Bank, and the business and expert communities.
I would like to note that a detailed programme of events will be drafted in the run-up to the planned July 2020 BRICS summit in St Petersburg. Many of them will focus on economic cooperation. I would like to use this opportunity to invite official representatives and business leaders of BRICS member countries to take part in these events. We also would like to invite you to attend major business forums in Russia, including the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, scheduled for June 3–6, 2020, and the Eastern Economic Forum in early September in Vladivostok, Russia’s Far East.
Thank you for your attention.