Putin speaks about breakthroughs in Russian economy at SPIEF

Putin speaks about breakthroughs in Russian economy at SPIEF

Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, touched upon key issues on the domestic and international agenda, including major changes in the Russian tax regime, the construction of the Nord Stream-2 pipeline and the main areas of cooperation between Russia and France.

The Russian leader said that the government is working on a draft tax regime changes. "Right now, the government is working to introduce certain changes to the tax system, but after we do this, we will keep it in place for 6 years," he assured.

The president also said that Russia has a whole program in store to change the business climate and expressed the hope that it will be implemented. Speaking about taxes, Putin added that "business can be confident that tax conditions will be respected." He also assured that further development of the infrastructure as a whole is planned, "because infrastructure development is one of the priorities identified in the State of the Nation Address to the Federal Assembly."

He also promised to reduce administrative loops and administrative pressure on business. "There is room for reform here. It's not just our problem. I know that the business community runs up against this in other countries as well," the Russian leader noted, and promised to maintain direct financial support and privileges for those projects that are considered to be nationally significant in Russia.

Speaking about the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project, Putin also said that Russia will welcome new participants from Europe joining the project. "France’s Engie company participates in Nord Stream 2, we will also welcome new participants, including Total. We can add other European companies to the list," he said.

According to the president, exports of Russian gas to Europe sooner or later will be liberalized.

Putin added that today five European companies participate in the Nord Stream 2 project. "If Total becomes the sixth company - this means direct participation in transporting gas from Russia," he said.

"Of course, we will think about liberalization of gas supplies via pipelines to Europe," Putin said. "We can indeed talk about this, we can discuss it. Sooner or later it will be done in an absolutely liberal regime," he added.

Putin stressed that Russian pipeline systems have no competition on the European market according to the price of gas for consumers.

"All of our pipeline systems linked to main consumers in Europe, have almost no rivals. If, of course, Europe wants to remain competitive and not buy from other producers for exorbitant prices," Sputnik cited the Russian leader as saying.

Touching upon the key issues of Russian-French relations,

Putin said that the amount of investments France poured into Russia and the level of Russian investment in France is insufficient. According to him, the volume of direct French investment poured into the Russian economy comes to $15 bln, whereas Russian investments into the French economy total more than $2 billion. "It's not enough, but the volume of French ones is small as well," Putin said.

Putin also commented on French President Emmanuel Macron’s earlier statement, in which he hoped that France would be able to push Germany out of first place in terms investment levels in Russia.

"I’ll have to disappoint Emmanuel - Germany does not occupy first place, China took first place long ago - both in terms of investments and trade turnover," he said.

According to Putin, the volume of Russian-Chinese trade turnover comes to the tune of $86 bln and there is a certainty that this figure will reach $100 billion very soon.

"The Russian economy is very open to our partners and very reliable," President Putin stressed, recalling that the Russian authorities managed to achieve macroeconomic stability, "which is important for investors."

Putin could not ignore another statement by Macron, who said that France believes in Europe from Lisbon to the Urals. Before giving the floor to the Russian President after the speech of the French leader, the moderator of the business dialogue, head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Alexander Shokhin, said that it should be about Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok, and not the Urals.

"He did not let me say this, that scoundrel!" Putin jokingly reproached Shokhin. "I was just about to start with this, but he stole this (opportunity) from me."

Further, the Russian leader expressed satisfaction that the economic relations between Russia and France are very diversified. As an example, he cited the space sphere, in which Russia and France cooperate. He also recalled bilateral cooperation in the aviation sphere.

The 22nd annual International Economic Forum (SPIEF)is being held in St. Petersburg on May 24-26.

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