8 Feb 2024 15:43

Russia ready for continued integration into world economy, highlighting five priorities in foreign economic activity - Reshetnikov

MOSCOW. Feb 8 (Interfax) - The Russian economy remains open and ready for further integration into the world economy, with the government highlighting five priorities in foreign economic activity, said Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov, speaking at a forum titled "Russia 2030 and the new world economic order: key factors and the role of business".

"The Russian economy has remained open and competitive, ready for further integration [into the world economy]. This is one of the strategic priorities voiced by the president. To achieve it, the government has updated the strategy of foreign economic activity, now the document is being considered by the government and final approvals are underway," he said.

"What we see as priorities. The first is the formation of a common market for trade and investment," Reshetnikov said. The size of the market "which is now open to us in the regime of free trade in goods is 350 million people," he said.

The minister said that negotiations are underway to conclude agreements on FTAs with the UAE, Egypt and Indonesia, with a proposal on starting FTA talks with Algeria . "By expanding the network of free trade zones with these countries, we should reach a market of 700 million people," Reshetnikov said.

The second priority, he said, is "creating favorable and predictable conditions for investment." "We are resolving this task with the help of international agreements on promotion and mutual protection of investments, as well as agreements on free trade in services and investments. They give investors the rights to receive compensation in case of discriminatory actions of countries, access to international arbitration. Agreements with 65 countries are already in force. We are working on documents with India, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Congo, and we are updating the agreement with China," he said.

Reshetnikov recalled that since May 2022 there is a tariff concession for implementation of investment projects. "Companies implementing projects in priority industries are exempt from import customs duty on goods that are not produced in our country, but are necessary for the implementation of projects. We're talking about high-tech equipment, spare parts and components, raw materials and supplies. We have already supported 11 investment projects worth 85 billion," the minister said.

The ministry is drawing up a mechanism to support key investment infrastructure projects abroad, "including sharing with business the risks there," he said. "We believe that the state should have resources, including funds, to participate in support of such projects in the format of 'junior debt', that is, to enter together with business, not taking over the management but providing resources," Reshetnikov said.

The third priority, according to him, is the development of transportation and logistics corridors. He recalled the signing of an agreement on the construction of the Resht-Astara railroad, which will help ramp up transit along the North-South corridor to the countries of South and Southeast Asia and Africa. "We are studying the possibilities of locating a Russian port transportation and logistics hub on the east coast of Africa. A special economic zone is being created in Egypt. We are working on the development of Mongolia's infrastructure as a transit country," the minister said.

The fourth priority, according to Reshetnikov, is to ensure low-carbon development of the economy. "Here is the key task: to set up conditions for joint realization of climate projects," he said.

Reshetnikov emphasized multilateral cooperation, in particular within the EAEU, CIS and BRICS, as the fifth priority. "In order to move forward within the BRICS framework, we have identified priorities for this year: responding to unilateral restrictions in trade, synchronization of joint digital services needed by our economies, reducing costs for business, climate. This year we also have a responsibility to include 5 new BRICS member countries in the work of the platform," he said.

Reshetnikov also once again said that Russia does not intend to give up participation in the World Trade Organization - "we have no other negotiating and discussion platforms yet. Yes, the platform [WTO] has become more for discussion rather than for the development of solutions, but, nevertheless, it is necessary to work there - and work closely," he said.