Putin calls on British businesses to help boost Russian economy
At a meeting with major British business representatives on Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin urged the senior corporate managers to participate in projects to speed up the Russian economy.
Putin said that in the next few years, Russia plans to invest “hundreds of billions of dollars in the development of the most important sectors of the economy and social sphere”.
“I didn’t misspeak, we are talking about investing hundreds of billions of dollars,” the Russian president told the senior managers, which included BP Chief Executive Robert Dudley, Vitol Chairman Ian Taylor and Glencore CEO Ivan Glasenberg.
Putin told them that their companies “could participate in this work” because “the market is quite large”.
“The implementation of these projects will have a complex, we hope, synergetic effect for the dynamic growth of the entire country, and will open up significant opportunities for business, even for the British business community,” Putin said, claiming that Russia’s economy is already “growing rapidly despite sanctions and Western pressure”.
Last year Russia’s GDP grew by 2.3% and its industry grew by 3%, Putin said, citing data from the Russian Federal State Statistics Service. He added that Russia was ranked 31 on the World Bank’s business freedom index, having jumped several dozen positions in the last five years.
“In Russia we are making every effort to ensure that foreign investors, our partners and friends, feel as comfortable as possible in the Russian market, and do not experience excessive administrative burdens,” Putin said.
He added that already more than 600 companies in Russia are operating with British involvement, in the manufacturing industry, engineering, pharmaceutics, and other innovative sectors. Experts from the City of London are involved in a project to establish an international financial center in Moscow; the London Stock Exchange is facilitating the flow of capital into Russia, and the securities of virtually all public Russian companies are placed in London.
“Although in recent years, relations between the UK and Russia have not been and are not, unfortunately, in the best condition at present,” Putin admitted, “the cumulative British investments in the Russian economy amount to $23.8 billion today.”
According to the latest data from the Bank of Russia, at the end of the third quarter, the total amount of direct foreign investments from the UK into Russia was $18.6 billion.
In the 5 years since Russia annexed Crimea and fell under sanctions from the West, this figure has dropped by 14%: British investors have withdrawn $3.1 billion from the real sector.
Last year a total of only $1.9 billion in direct investments flowed into Russia, an unprecedented low In the second half of 2018, investors closed up shop and even withdrew funds: $5.3 billion in the third quarter and $0.9 billion in the fourth, setting another all-time record, according to the Bank of Russia’s statistics.