Excerpts from Transcript of Meeting with Representatives of the International Chamber of Commerce – World Business Organisation 2006-07-04 21:38:01 International Trade Centre, Moscow <…> President Vladimir Putin: Regarding economic development in general, development in the broad sense and responding to challenges such as the fight against poverty, there can’t be one without the other. We cannot resolve the problem of poverty without achieving effective economic development. I just met with representatives of non-governmental organisations. Many of them declared their opposition to developing nuclear energy. Moreover, this opposition is stated in writing in the documents they handed us. Your organisation, the ICC, is also a non-governmental organisation, but you advocate the development of nuclear energy. This indicates the complexity of the problems that state leaders must address when taking practical decisions. I said at the meeting with the NGOs and I can repeat here that we must, of course, think first of all about safety. Modern technology makes it possible to produce nuclear energy in safe conditions, but if we want the public to feel safe and feel confident that the state is carrying out work in this area in the best way possible, we need a direct and open dialogue and we need to find the optimum solutions that will allow the state and the NGOs to meet their objectives, and chief among these objectives is the fight against poverty. Concerning nuclear energy, we will be focusing on safety in the nuclear energy sector in St Petersburg. Some countries have decided to stop developing nuclear energy, while others are actively developing the sector, but the problem of safety concerns everyone, especially when we’re talking about nuclear energy. Having lived through the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the past, as part of the Soviet Union, our country knows better than anyone that events such as this know no borders. When this disaster took place, they felt the consequences too up in Sweden, for example. We know that some governments have decided to build new nuclear energy production units, in significant quantities too. Compared to other developed economies, government support for this sector is only minimal in Russia. We will follow a very responsible policy with regard to these issues, with regard to the need for economic development in general, energy sector development and safety guarantees. Coming to trade, yes, the Russian Federation is not yet a member of the World Trade Organisation and is still holding talks. The only country with whom we have not yet reached an agreement is the United States of America. We think that in many ways the Russian economy is a lot more open and liberal in the way it functions than the economies of some countries that have long since been WTO members. But if for some reason we do not manage to reach a final agreement, then we will, of course, no longer consider ourselves bound by certain agreements that we have not only accepted but have also been fulfilling, without yet acceding to the WTO. Regarding the Doha Round of negotiations currently underway in Geneva, and in particular the agricultural products issue that you have drawn attention to, I must say that Russia and the Russian Government do not provide any support for Russian agricultural exports, unlike many other countries. This issue is therefore not particularly relevant for us and we have no problem addressing it. This indicates, precisely, that we are a lot more liberal than many longstanding members of the WTO. Agriculture subsidies in Russia come to a total of zero. The policy pursued by other countries today is not helping to create a level playing field for economic development, especially with regard to the developing economies. We are not able to directly influence the negotiating process because we are not a member of the organisation, but it is no problem for me to pass on your views to my colleagues when we meet in St Petersburg later this month for the G8 summit. I will certainly do this. This is no problem. The problem that our country is facing – a serious problem for us – is that of protecting intellectual property rights. We have passed a number of laws at national level to provide additional protection for intellectual property rights. The matter now is to ensure that these laws are all properly enforced within the country. This is a problem not just for the Russian Federation but for many countries, above all countries with developing economies. This will most likely be a subject for discussion and we are ready to take a most active part in this discussion and come up with general decisions and measures to ensure that the decisions taken are executed. I think that it would make sense for us to keep each other up to date on these issues through the ICC’s Russian representatives not just as part of preparations for the G8 summit but as part of our practical day to day work in order to know exactly what is going with regard to protection of intellectual property rights.