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Putin vows to uphold Russia’s interests on economic front, yet not impair other states

May 25, 16:13 UTC+3

Fair competition is the foundation for progress and successful development, Russia’s head of state maintains

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© Mikhail Metzel/TASS

ST.PETERSBURG, May 25. / TASS /. Russia will act in its best interests when developing its economy, but will do so without impairing other countries, said Russian President Vladimir Putin at the 2018 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on Friday.

"We will act first of all in our national interests, which is natural for any sovereign state, but our interests can be promoted in different ways, by either ignoring others, or by respecting our partners' position, and realizing that the contemporary world is interrelated and the countries are interdependent," said Putin.

As the president noted, the great economies of the world have colossal responsibility for a common future. "Russia is part of the global economy, we participate in integration projects, we have a serious impact on energy, food, other markets," said Putin. According to him, the quality and speed of world economy development define new knowledge and competences of people, advanced technologies and communications.

"Those who will be able to effectively use these growth factors, will be able to provide a breakthrough in the economy, social sphere, science and education, will significantly improve the people's standards of living," he said.

According to the President, the government has determined the priorities for the development of the Russian economy. "In the near future, the newly formed Russian government should deploy them into specific programs of activities, national projects and legislative initiatives, and provide the necessary resources to fulfill these tasks," the President said.

Putin said that Russia is ready to learn in its development and use the best international practices and its experience while solving the most important structural problems.

Sanctions policy

The policy of sanctions and protectionism, pursued by some countries, may have a very negative impact on the global economy, he went on. "There are a lot of businessmen here who know very well that if a party to a contract leaves the legal framework, it always means significant risks and losses," Putin said. "It is an axiom of business. Globally, if a whole country, particularly a center of power, acts that way, the situation may have negative - if not devastating - consequences," he added.

According to the Russian president, disregard for the existing rules and loss of mutual trust may overlap with unpredictability and turbulence brought by technological changes. "Such a confluence of factors may lead to a systemic crisis that the world has either never witnessed before or has not experienced for a long time. It will affect all the economic actors, with no exceptions," Putin pointed out.

He added that mutual mistrust puts the prospects for global economic growth into question and even may "push the global economy back to the remote past, to the period of natural economy when everyone had to produce everything themselves," he added.

Fair competition

Fair competition is the token of progress and successful development and all countries need to move on together in this direction, Putin said.

"Certainly, we do not attempt to idealize the situation. Competition and clashing of interests has always been, is and will always be present. At the same time, it is important to maintain respect. Exactly the abilities of solving contradictions in fair competition and not in its restriction is the source of progress, the base for confident sustainable development of each country, for implementation of vast research and technology potential accumulated in the world," Putin said.

Russia supports freedom of trade, economic integration and meaningful partner dialog and urges partners from Europe, America, Asia, and other regions of the world to move on together to the sustainable development goal, the president added.

Putin pointed out the undermining of the key rules of cooperation in the world economy, and pushing out fair competition from the world market by unilateral restrictions.

"Today we are seeing not even erosion, but the actual undermining of the foundations of a multilateral cooperation system that had been built for decades. Instead of the necessary natural evolution, it's breaking down, and quite harshly. Breaking rules becomes the rule. Open markets and fair competition are gradually replaced by all kinds of exemptions and restrictions, sanctions," he said. 

He added that t restrictive measures against countries have become an official instrument of trade policy of many countries, and some states are compelled not only to adapt, but also to react to such steps by taking tit for tat measures.

Putin drew attention to the fact that not long ago the major summits ended with a joint statement by the leaders on the rejection of new protectionist barriers, and today it is impossible to agree even on such symbolic steps. In addition, the Russian president noted a slowdown in the signing of agreements on free trade.

"If in the past there were classical forms of protectionism, which, of course, also caused regret, such as additional import duties, technical requirements or hidden subsidies, but today we are talking about a new edition of protectionism - the use, obviously, of artificial pretexts about alleged national security interests, to suppress competitors or to extort concessions," the President said, noting that the spiral of sanctions and restrictions is only twisting further as of today.

Business conditions

Putin vows to form conditions in Russia for doing business at the highest global standards.

"We will form such conditions for work in Russia, which will correspond to the highest standards. In particular, this pertains to support of business initiatives, Putin said.

Russian authorities will "broaden the space of freedom," Putin noted. "The course on removal barriers and liberalization of laws meets interests and needs of our citizens in the first instance," he said.

The Russian leader recalled that he stressed the need of proactive use of project financing instruments at the Forum last year. "Currently, and this is a positive fact, we can speak about launching the mechanism of a kind of a project financing factory," Putin said. Agreements on financing of new investment projects totaling over 700 bln rubles ($11.3 bln) are planned for signing within the SPIEF framework alone, he noted.

Cooperation with WTO

Putin said the World Trade Organization is not ideal but there are no problems that cannot be settled in it. Rejection of WTO will lead to prevailing club law, he added. 

"WTO is certainly not ideal. Nevertheless, there are no unsolvable problems in the WTO system also. Rejecting it without creating anything in return means destroying the established balance. Then there will be no claimants or respondents in commercial disputes. Only the power will decide, who is right," Putin said.

"The world is changing and institutions and rules should change along with it. However, one point is obvious - these rules should be transparent and common for all and should be observed by all participants in international economic relations," he added.

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