2 november 2010

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting on helping Russian delegations work more effectively in intergovernmental commissions

Vladimir Putin

At a meeting on helping Russian delegations work more effectively in intergovernmental commissions

“How we construct our economic and financial relations with key partners will affect the success of Russia’s modernisation agenda, our transition to an innovation-based economy, and our ability to make good on our budget obligations and our modernisation plans.”

Vladimir Putin’s introductory remarks:


Today we will discuss the work of Russian delegations within intergovernmental commissions. This is a very important part of our work. How we construct our economic and financial relations with key partners will affect the success of Russia’s modernisation agenda, our transition to an innovation-based economy, and our ability to make good on our budget obligations and our modernisation plans. First of all, I’d like to point out that Russia participates in a large and diverse international system, including 86 commissions and 270 working groups with foreign partners.

In general, Russia’s foreign trade has been growing at a satisfactory pace this year. Russia’s trade with key partners, actually with all of our trading partners, currently totals $400 billion, up 40% from last year. Obviously, trade within the CIS remains our priority; however, our trade with Eurozone countries, as is well known, is also growing. EU partners currently account for over 50% of Russia’s foreign trade.

We are also actively cooperating with the BRIC countries – China, India and Brazil. We are building relations with Latin American countries, and trade with countries of the Asia-Pacific region is on the rise.

We need to look at how effectively Russian delegations are operating in intergovernmental commissions. Obviously, we don’t want to see an empty, formalistic approach to their work. The head of each Russian delegation in these intergovernmental commissions should have a complete picture of our ongoing economic cooperation and should define factors that could influence this cooperation.

We must also work more closely with public organisations, such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, so that we can focus our efforts on the most important issues.

We all know that major projects are being implemented as part of this cooperation. These projects are having a significant impact on entire industries and the economy as a whole.

The Superjet-100 is a well-known international project in aircraft manufacturing; in transport, we are preparing to launch high-speed rail service between Moscow and Helsinki soon. Sapsan high-speed trains are already running between Moscow and St Petersburg and recently began serving the Moscow-Nizhny Novgorod route as well. There are many more international projects that have a significant impact on the economy, infrastructure development and social issues.

Let’s discuss how effectively this work is being done. Ms Nabiullina, please.

Elvira Nabiullina: In preparing for today’s meeting, we have analysed the operation of Russian delegations in intergovernmental commissions. The system of intergovernmental commissions is indeed very diverse. The majority of our investment partners have established them. I can cite some figures to illustrate the point. The countries with which we have intergovernmental commissions account for 92% of our trade, 94% of foreign investment in Russia and 86% of Russian investment abroad. These countries are our key partners and the future of our cooperation largely depends on the operation of these intergovernmental commissions.

On the whole, ICs (intergovernmental commissions) are an effective instrument for developing bilateral relations. Their main functions are as follows: organising negotiations with our partners, coordinating the activities of ministries and departments, as ICs cover the entire range of our trade, economic, investment and cultural cooperation, and opening dialogues with businesses and business councils, which are popping up in most of countries. In addition, ICs supervise the development of promising projects that are vital for modernisation and new areas of economic cooperation.

ICs are guided by strategic documents both on our priorities for economic development and on the main trajectory of our foreign trade until 2020. The latter document was adopted in the end of 2008. When we discussed this document, we set long-term goals in all areas of our international cooperation in all regions. We also drafted country-specific action plans regarding many of our partners, 35 of which have already been adopted. The heads of the Russian delegations in ICs have approved these plans. In other words, these plans are the documents guiding their work.

We’ve analysed the list of issues that dominate our agendas. For the most part, they are related to cooperation on energy, agriculture (including veterinary, sanitary and phytosanitary control, because this ensures access to markets), space, telecommunications, transport and aviation. These are the key issues for these industries, and they are different for each country.

In addition, Russian delegations in ICs analyse administrative and customs barriers that are restricting the access of our commodities and investment to foreign markets.

We have examined this issue before, but this year we published for the first time a document analysing the restrictions imposed by different countries on our goods, services and investment. This document is at available to our investors.

Twenty Russian IC delegations are headed by deputy prime ministers, 52 by federal ministers and 16 by deputy ministers and directors of federal services.

Although ICs are an effective instrument, we believe more should be done to improve their work. First of all, it is essential to include the most urgent issues on the agendas of their meetings, helping us to modernise and diversify our exports and other economic activities. It is also important to gear their work toward developing projects.

Some ICs operate on what are called beacon projects. These are major projects that largely determine the future of our relations. This is why we believe that a focus on projects is very important from an administrative perspective.

We suggest that apart from traditional indicators of trade and investment cooperation, the effectiveness of ICs should be judged by other factors, such as diversification of exports (it is very important for us to diversify exports), the level of exports (the extent to which we and our ICs help enterprises with a high degree of conversion to enter foreign markets), and major investment projects related to modernisation.

In addition, we suggest that Russian IC delegations report on their performance every year so that we can analyse their effectiveness and set new tasks for them. We think that regular reports will be very helpful.

We also think it is very important to work more closely with our business councils, our business community in general, to make sure that the interests of our entrepreneurs are also taken into consideration.  

Vladimir Putin: We must also make sure that the workload on these issues is evenly distributed among government officials.

Elvira Nabiullina: Yes, I was just about to show slides illustrating how the workload is distributed. Unfortunately, it is unevenly distributed for the time being. We’ll probably prepare in the near future… For the time being, the difference is four or five times, and some heads of ICs carry a greater load than others.

Igor Shuvalov: This applies to the energy complex, for which there is the most demand.

Vladimir Putin: Energy, transport, agriculture, industry…

Elvira Nabiullina: With your approval, we’ll redistribute the workload to make it optimal for all members and heads of ICs, so that they can do meaningful work, rather than just go through the motions. A lot of time and effort is required to do the job well. They must organise visits and other events to ensure that ICs operate effectively.