8 Jun 2019 12:31

Putin urges foreign business to get involved in national projects

ST. PETERSBURG. June 8 (Interfax) - Russian President Vladimir Putin urged foreign businesses working in Russia to become involved in national projects.

"Clearly national projects offer huge scope for cooperation and partnership, for the domestic initiatives of Russian and foreign entrepreneurs, and I very much hope that in this respect you will not only understand us but will also gear yourselves to joint work," he said during a meeting with the heads of foreign companies during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Many of those at the meeting "have worked in Russia for a long time and successfully, you have localized your own production here and are now selling your products in other countries," Putin said. "We are of course looking closely at this, we are trying to support you, we value you highly and we intend to work in the same vein going forward," he said.

Putin said around 25.7 trillion rubles or $400 billion were being pumped into the national projects. "This is quite a lot for our economy. For example we intend to boost investment in the digital economy three or more times," Putin said, adding that other priorities included health care, education, scientific research and the development of backbone transport and energy infrastructure.

"We will also be increasing volumes of housing construction, making the urban environment more comfortable and making strides in the solution of environmental problems," he said.

Putin's meeting with foreign company bosses usually wraps the president's program of work at the economic forum up.

"The whole meeting was devoted to the participation of foreign businesses in national projects. This was the main topic for discussion. Absolutely specific things were discussed, very substantively. As usual for such meetings, foreign business representatives posed some very specific questions. The president mainly allowed cabinet ministers to speak, they commented on those issues, and all questions were answered," Andrei Belousov, a presidential aide, told reporters.

"Concrete plans by many companies to develop engineering centers in Russia, for new pharmaceutical projects, health care projects were discussed. Our colleagues from Huawei, of course said some very important things, sharing their plans for working with Russia," said Kirill Dmitriev, head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF).

"Where did the investors mainly come from" From China? Asia?" one journalist asked. "There were a lot of European companies, American ones, our traditional, partners," Deputy Prime Minister Maxim Akimov said in reply.

The foreign company bosses did not touch on the issue of Baring Vostok founder Michael Calvey. "It was not discussed," Akimov said.

"No, this subject [Calvey] was not planned and was not raised. The meeting took place in an amicable atmosphere. All who planned to do so had their say and received comments from the president, from ministers. The president asked the government to continue to discuss the issues raised," said Alexander Shokhin, head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs.

Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin said the dialog between Putin and the foreign company heads was built exclusively around business. "There were no political subjects at all, this was a business discussion about business subjects, he said, when asked whether the Calvey affair was discussed.

"Nobody raised the Calvey issue. That was discussed at the plenary session. There were individual questions from companies and businesses at this meeting" power generation, banking, pharmaceuticals," BP chief Bob Dudley said.

"[Putin's] main message [at the meeting] was that foreign companies should not only discuss their ongoing work, should not only continue to work in Russia but, importantly, continue to work in Russia. There really are a lot of new projects, legislative amendments, adjustments to be made for these projects to be carried out and not simply discussed," Economic Development Minister Oreshkin said.