Putin Attempts to Ease Investor Jitters
Published: May 28, 2014 (Issue # 1813)
President Vladimir Putin attempted to reassure global business leaders — jittery over the U.S.-led sanctions campaign against Russia — to stay in the country as he met with them at St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on May 23.
“Think of the benefits of working in Russia, don’t give in to pressure and blackmail, and we will help you,” Putin said at the 18th annual gathering, which saw a severely diminished showing by U.S. executives. Many of them ducked the forum at the request of Barack Obama’s administration, which is intent on punishing the Kremlin for its alleged meddling in the Ukraine conflict.
Putin, acknowledging that Russia’s economic growth can no longer be driven by energy exports, outlined his strategy for the structural reform of the economy on May 23, focusing on massive infrastructure projects, the enhancement of human capital and financial and regulatory support of business by the state.
Lambasting the West, and primarily the United States, for disrespecting Russia’s interests and snubbing Moscow’s attempts to engage in a dialogue was another leitmotiv of Putin’s 40-minute speech and the hour-long question and answer session that followed it.
Putin also downplayed the effect of the economic sanctions on Russia’s economy, saying they mainly target his personal friends, and these had been shrewd enough businessmen to transfer their assets home in good time.
The Kremlin’s plan to revive the Russian economy, as presented by Putin on May 23, sees non-energy exports growing by 6 percent each year, substituting imported goods with domestic products, stimulating investment into modernization projects, improving professional education and easing labor market mobility.
“I will also send to parliament a package of bills aiming to ease procedures for registration of companies, getting licenses, customs procedures — all initially expected to pass in 2018 — by the end of this year,” Putin said.
He added that he will push for the dissemination of best practices accumulated by Russian regions in dealing with investors in other regions. On May 23, the Agency for Strategic Initiatives, an official innovation institute, released Russia’s first regional investment rating, based on accounts of investors. Kaluga region, Ulyanovsk region, Krasnoyarsk region and the Republic of Tatarstan topped the list of most investor-friendly regions.
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