28 september 2012

Dmitry Medvedev takes part in the Yalta Business Meetings international investment forum

Dmitry Mededev’s address at the forum:

Good afternoon, colleagues. It is my pleasure to greet the Yalta Business Meetings and to wish you every success.

Joining the discussion about the rouble, I would like to say right off that a year may be a short time, but it seems to me that if we want to keep up with the times, we should move faster. If 40% of all settlements are in roubles it is reason enough to think how the Russian rouble is valued under the current Ukrainian regulations. Naturally, it is a matter of preference: if you do not want to pay in roubles you may find at a certain point that you have to pay in yuans. This is a dilemma that the entire world economy is facing. It is up to you to decide what is better for you.

Regarding this forum, I hope it will gather momentum. I subscribe to what Nikolai Azarov (the Ukrainian Prime Minister) has said. We have seen the exhibition and, without meaning any offence to its organisers, it is completely off topic: it has nothing to do with our business meetings and the investment potential of the CIS member-states. What we need is cooperation projects, projects that the Governments of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova and other countries represented here can support, and not just a lure designed to promote the heady prospects opened up by this or that investment project in the Crimea or other places. So, I think that in that sense the future forums will be more solid.

To answer the question raised by Andrei Kostin (President of VTB bank): Of course the Moscow financial centre is still in the process of being created although we have already expended considerable effort and resources. I am going to have another meeting on this matter soon. I think Moscow, owing to geopolitical reasons, Russia’s financial potential and, if you like, owing to its strategic significance, is destined to be a bridge linking the economies of various countries. The world has found that no reserve currency can claim to be exceptional.

At first – you remember 2008-2009 – we were all concerned about the dollar. I attended G8 and G20 summits, where discussions focused on the outlook for the dollar as a reserve currency. The outlook was very unclear. Then a measure of stabilisation took place. Today we are all looking anxiously at Europe, worried about the fate of the euro zone, gazing into the crystal ball and wondering whether more money will be shelled out to Greece or whether it will split off at some point setting off a chain reaction of the European Union’s disintegration. And let’s face it, though our economies are all different, in addition to links within the CIS they are all closely tied in with the European Union economies. Russia’s trade with the European Union countries amounts to $300 billion. For us it is a big market, and that is why we are watching what is happening there.

It was not by chance that I mentioned China, the Chinese yuan, because the currencies of the Asia Pacific market are knocking on every door. True, so far our Chinese friends have not made their currency convertible, but as soon as they do you can be sure that all the states, both those that are represented here and all the other states, will denominate their currency reserves in yuans as well. This is the bidding of the time. Why? Because beginning, say, from 2008, we have seen that the existing currency system is unstable and needs to be propped up. What are these props? They are alternative, additional reserve currencies. I think the rouble has every chance to become such a currency. But now we are not alone in pushing forward this project, we have our Common Economic Space partners – Kazakhstan and Belarus – and we are thinking of solving all these currency issues and creating a financial centre in Moscow together.

While on this subject, I would like to say a few words about our relations within this new integration group. I don’t know if our friends in Ukraine and other countries are aware of this, but our mutual trade increased by an average 30-40% as soon as the Customs Union was created. This is the direct result of establishing the integration association, we now have a common market of 165 million people, which is a substantial figure. Not that I am inviting all of you to join the Customs Union immediately. Let us be frank, we have yet to sort out the ongoing processes. Some of our partners would like to join, others are thinking about it, and still others say they will never join the Customs Union. But in any case it is a model that we are going to use in the coming years.

Coming back to the CIS, I think the potential we have managed to build up in recent years is on the whole quite impressive. All the talk about the demise of the CIS is groundless, if only because we have no alternative vehicle for communication. But we have a real need for such vehicles as this business forum because endless talks between politicians usually fail to make any difference. I have attended CIS presidential forums, and now I am taking part in prime ministerial forums. You are the main engine of the development of relations within any integration entity, including the Commonwealth of Independent States.

I am very glad that we have at long last completed many years’ work to create a free trade zone. Eight CIS members signed a document to the effect in St Petersburg last year. As Sergei Lebedev (Executive Director of the CIS) said, it has been signed by five states: Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Armenia and Moldova. Other colleagues are thinking about ratification and we discussed the technical details today. In any case, it is an effective free trade institution spanning most of the CIS space and based on the principles of the World Trade Organisation. We welcome this and of course we invite other states and the companies in these states to take part in these processes.

Such new integration organisations, notwithstanding the negative experience of the European Union, constitute a key area of development for us. But I would like to stress once more, and this must conclude my statement: the main drivers of integration, the main participants in cooperation links are businesspeople, and you should form the demand for political decisions that are within the competence of heads of state and government, and I sincerely wish you success.

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Before taking part in the forum Dmitry Medvedev visited an exhibition presenting investment projects.