ST PETERSBURG, Russia (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin, in a keynote address to the St Petersburg international economic forum, said foreign direct investment in Russia totaled $7 billion in the first quarter of this year, its highest level in three years.
Putin made a number of points on Friday that had featured in past speeches at the forum, which he first addressed in 2005 and has become the main annual gathering of executives and policymakers from Russia and around the world.
Critics of Putin and some Kremlin observers say the same themes recur because of Russian leaders’ limited ability to implement real reform.
Below are details of what the Russian president has said in past forum speeches about the investment climate, economic development, tax policy, diversification of the economy, and Russia’s place in the global economy.
The speeches were delivered by Putin and also by Dmitry Medvedev, his ally who took over from him as president between 2008 and 2012 while Putin served as prime minister.
Says any restrictions on investors aimed at safeguarding national interests should be “transparent to the maximum”, to avoid creating unjustified barriers for foreign business.
Criticizes other countries who put obstacles to foreign investors, says Russia, by contrast, aims to build “the most favorable” regime for foreign investors.
Says Russia needs active and competitive private small and medium-sized business as part of a program of modernization over the next couple of years.
Says Russia needs an investment boom, calls the creation of a comfortable environment for investors a key priority.
Says Russia should join the ranks of the 20 countries with the most investor-friendly environment by the end of the decade, and that the share of investments in gross domestic product should grow to 27 percent from 20 percent.
Says Russia needs to create open, free, predictable conditions so it would be profitable to invest in Russia.
Promises to continue liberalizing the business climate, calls for law enforcement officers to be held accountable for any unlawful actions which lead to a business being destroyed.
Says many systemic problems are yet to be solved, including relatively high inflation, monopolization of a number of economic sectors, and corruption.
Calls for the creation of a “smart” economy, which will bring higher living standards and create larger middle class.
“Russia should became an attractive country where people from all around the world would be eager to pursue their dreams, looking for better opportunities for success and self-realization.”
Among key goals names stable development of the country, an effective state serving individuals and society, legal and judicial systems which would be “undoubtedly” trusted by people.
Says Russia will stick to its strategic course: implementation of advanced technologies which determine quality of life, investments in people a priority.
Says Russia needs a “true” technological revolution, needs to conduct the biggest technological upgrade of its industrial facilities for the last 50 years.
Says Russia needs to increase labor productivity in industrial, construction, infrastructure and agriculture sectors by at least 5 percent per year.
Says exploiting energy resources is not enough for stable economic growth, moreover it is distracting from solving key issues.
Says in the coming decades, Russia should become a country where prosperity and high standards of living come from intellectual resources.
Says Russia is still not diversified, reliance on oil is still high.
Says Russia managed to stabilize situation and avoided deep crisis, the country is “confidently” passing through difficulties thanks to its internal safety cushions.
Says Russia is setting up goal of economic growth of at least 4 percent a year.
Says if Russian and global economic conditions are favorable, in the next years Moscow will consider lowering taxes for business.
Says taxation policy should work on creating and boosting of investments.
“We have taken a principled decision: tax rates will be fixed for the next four years so as not to increase the burden on business and so that companies can make plans for the medium-term.”
Promises that the state will gradually cut its presence in a number of the sectors of the economy, says privatization will differ from 1990s when many Kremlin-linked businessmen got control over former state assets on the cheap.
Promises to increase rouble attractiveness, consider switching to rouble settlements in export contracts.
Calls to establish Moscow as “powerful global financial center” and the rouble as one of the leading regional reserve currencies.
Says Russia needs to turn Moscow into a global financial center.
Says Russian companies are becoming full-scale international players, start to invest in big international projects.
Says need to create new architecture of international economic relations built on “trust and mutually beneficial integration.” Says Russia interested in expanding its investments abroad, as well as in asset swaps.
Says that during a period of global economic crisis, Russia can build a new framework of relations with the European Union, economic cooperation with the United States as well as ex-Soviet countries as “it is essential to overcome troubles together.”
Says openness and integration into the global economy is Russia’s “obvious” choice. “We did not turn our backs on it when we faced challenges and crises, and won’t change it now.”
“Isn’t it obvious that economic sanctions as a tool of political pressure... have a boomerang effect and at the end, affect business and economies of the countries which imposed them?”
Reporting by Darya Korsunskaya and Polina Nikolskaya; Writing by Katya Golubkova; Editing by Stephen Powell