RUSSIALINK TRANSCRIPT: “Eastern Economic Forum plenary session; Vladimir Putin took part in the Eastern Economic Forum. The President spoke at a plenary session of the Forum” – KremlinRu
Speech at the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum
President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, Mr President of the People’s Republic of China, Mr President of Mongolia, prime ministers of Japan and South Korea, ladies and gentlemen, friends,
I would like to welcome you all to the 4th Eastern Economic Forum. It is a pleasure to host the heads of major states in the Asia-Pacific Region, the heads of global corporations, and acclaimed international experts in politics, the economy, science, culture and the environment.
This year, the forum brought together guests from over 60 countries. Representatives of over a thousand Russian and foreign companies are working at the forum. Each and every partner is important and valuable to us. First and foremost, I would like to wish you every success in promoting business initiatives.
I expect that the meetings in Vladivostok will become a good opportunity for establishing reliable business links and productive cooperation across the Russian regions and primarily in the Far East. It is for the development of the Far Eastern economy that we organised this forum.
Developing the Far East is an absolute priority for us. I would like to repeat that this is a consistent and long-term policy. We are working hard to create a strong centre of international cooperation and integration, business and investment activity, education, science and culture in the dynamically growing Asia-Pacific Region. We are building this centre primarily in the interests of Russian citizens, the residents of the Far East, for their wellbeing, as well as for people to fully realise their potential.
We can see powerful resources for achieving the strategic goals that we set, for a breakthrough, for greater competitiveness of the country and a better quality of life for our citizens.
We understand how complicated the challenges are. We know that it is impossible to immediately solve all the demographic and social, economic and infrastructural problems of the Far East. But we have to do it, we will do it and will eventually succeed.
Modern models of cooperation with businesses and a priority statecraft approach towards the development of the Far East are already yielding results. The Far East is becoming a growth point and continues to attract investment. And I am confident that the new role of the Far East as the driving force of the national economy, innovations and culture will continue to expand in the years to come.
In the past five years, from 2013 until 2017, the region’s industrial output soared by almost 22 percent, considerably exceeding the average national levels. Today, the region accounts for over 25 percent of all direct foreign investment in Russia. This is quite impressive considering that this share totaled only about two percent five years ago.
Over 130 companies have been established, and over 16,000 new jobs have been created in line with special mechanisms for developing the Far East and the free port of Vladivostok. We are posting obvious development in such sectors as manufacturing construction materials, the transport infrastructure, engineering, tourism, production of minerals, the development of marine biological resources as well as the agro-industrial sector.
I would like to point out that we are witnessing a substantial increase in agricultural-project investment here in the Far East. It is necessary to support such investment, including the incentives for reclaiming disused plots of land and other areas subject to various sorts of restrictions.
Yesterday, I met with our colleagues from foreign companies and investors who are directly interested in this work in terms of the various competitive advantages that I have just been mentioning, including those in the field of agriculture.
In this connection, I would like to ask the Government and the governors of Russian regions to directly address this matter and to assess the use of farmland in each specific region.
And, of course, we need to more actively export Far Eastern farming produce to foreign markets, including the Asia Pacific region. In this connection, we are suggesting that our Chinese, Japanese and Korean friends and other partners whose businesses are proactively investing in the Far Eastern agricultural sector jointly eliminate food-trade barriers and reach optimal solutions for our common good.
We realise the importance of phyto-sanitary oversight, and there are many spheres here where we can work together, all the more so as we are establishing companies and absolutely “clean” territories for joint work in the Far East.
Russia is proactive in promoting cooperation and investment ties with the People’s Republic of China. Today, more than 30 projects worth some 200 billion rubles are being implemented in Russia’s Far East, with the help of Chinese investors.
We are committed to promoting a positive cooperation agenda with our Japanese partners. Only yesterday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and I launched an engine plant in Primorye Territory. We will always support substantive, result-driven joint undertakings of this kind.
There is also great potential for promoting projects with Mongolia, our long-standing and reliable partner, on infrastructure, energy, as well as the environment.
Companies from the Republic of Korea are successfully carrying out their projects in Russia. It is in the regions of Russia’s Far East that cooperation with South Korean businesses is especially promising.
Of course, I cannot fail but to highlight once again trilateral projects in infrastructure, energy and other spheres involving Russia, the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Normalising the situation around the Korean Peninsula is a key prerequisite for achieving progress on these projects.
All in all, in order to ensure steady development, we need stability, peace and security in the Asia-Pacific Region. It is essential that we prevent new conflicts from emerging and resolve old ones in the spirit of dialogue. Russia has always stood for this approach and promoted a constructive agenda on all international platforms, and is committed to doing so in the future. The same applies to our interaction with our partners within the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, APEC, ASEAN, and other regional frameworks.
There is one more thing I would like to add. As I have already said, new forms of protectionism and various barriers have emerged across the world, affecting the global economy. They are becoming increasingly more apparent and are gaining momentum.
It is unfortunate that fundamental principles of trade, competition and mutual benefit are depreciated, falling hostage to ideology-driven approaches and short-sighted political calculations. This is a serious challenge for the global economy, especially for the vibrant APR, threatening its leadership.
We strongly believe that in order for our region to achieve high growth rates and remain a key force in international economics and trade, it needs to preserve the spirit of economic freedom and facilitate business initiatives free of sanctions, bans or political bias.
As we invite foreign partners to take part in joint projects in the Far East, we are acting in line with pragmatism, common sense and mutual benefit. We want investors vying for an opportunity to implement their projects in the Russian Far East to expand their fair competition, so that the best business proposals would win, yielding high profits, which are the main goal of any business.
Just look: companies from Kazakhstan, India, Vietnam, Australia, New Zealand, as well as many other countries, which are quite different in terms of their interests, traditions, culture, political systems, international obligations and priorities, already operate in this Russian region. But I repeat, we are providing all entrepreneurs with equal conditions for successful and effective work.
Our decision to introduce electronic entry visas for people going to the Far East meets the spirit of development and openness. Today, people from 18 countries can obtain such visas; they can submit all documents online and under a simplified procedure. We will continue to work on this in the future, so that more and more people will be able to obtain online visas, and this also concerns Asia Pacific countries.
I have already said that the scale of the tasks facing us requires systematic work for decades to come. I believe that we need a national programme for the development of the Russian Far East until 2025 and up to 2035.
The Government will be instructed to draft this document in close contact with the Far Eastern regions, citizens, businesses, public and business associations. Considering the significance of this national programme, it will be approved by a presidential executive order.
The programme should bring together and integrate the activities of our national projects and state programmes, long-term departmental plans of agencies and infrastructure companies, and the development strategies of all Far Eastern regions.
It goes without saying that this national programme should contain detailed and specific dimensions together with measurable indicators. This is a job for our colleagues in the Government and the regions.
Already now, what I would like to say is that the goals that we must set may only be ambitious, progressive and advanced. Otherwise, we should not even get into this. We need to strive for the economic growth rate of Russia’s Far East to be above the global average.
We understand that this is a complicated task. Our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific Region have demonstrated good growth rates. This means that we must demonstrate a growth rate of at least six percent annually in the Far East. Competition is strong; therefore, our work must be even more efficient.
This is required primarily to make significant improvements to the quality of life of our citizens, to ensure that in the next few years more people relocate to the Far East from other regions, than the number of people leaving. Our ambition must be to ensure that more and more citizens live, work and build their homes, start their families and raise their children here in the Far East.
What are the key spheres that should be covered by the national development programme for the Far East?
First and foremost, we must ensure a high, advanced dynamic in such sensitive fields as quality housing, utilities, transport accessibility, connectivity of the Far East with the rest of Russia, healthcare, culture and availability of sports facilities. We must have special measures in place to help boost demographic development and support families.
Second. The future of the Far East does not only comprise traditional areas that we must also bring to a new level. Above all, these are such fields as education, science and international cooperation in the industries that are definitive for global progress.
We are meeting here on Russky Island at the Far Eastern Federal University where we intend to start a world-class education and research centre and develop it further. This includes, of course, construction of a technology park and a mega-science research installation that will allow solving completely new fundamental science and applied science tasks in pharmaceuticals, materials science and other spheres.
I believe our major companies and corporations involved in Far Eastern projects, such as Rosneft, Gazprom, Rosatom and Roscosmos, aviation industry companies and others should build their engineering facilities, research and development centres on Russky Island. The Government and the top management of these corporations should consider this as direct instructions.
Today, it is not uncommon for new technology to outpace deeply rooted legal regulation and certification norms. We want to remove these barriers. What we want is for Russia’s Far East to be a space of the future, of a dream, and a place of creativity, if I may say so.
I instruct the Government to devise a special status for Russky Island. It must offer an enabling environment so that any research team or any group of enthusiasts can launch start-ups, make their ideas a reality and engage in innovative projects. In this environment they must be able to test the most advanced solutions before their practical or commercial use makes its way into laws, including in robotics, unmanned and sea transport, healthcare, biotechnology and the environment.
In addition to this, I propose establishing a Digital Development Centre on Russky Island as part of our programme to promote a digital economy. This centre could focus on software development, big data storage and transmission, as well as cyber security, and other spheres.
Two months ago now, a unique and innovative training course on digital technology was held at the Far Eastern Federal University as part of our national technology initiative. The educational process in its entirety was designed and planned using artificial intelligence, from the selection of participants to mapping out individual educational trajectories.
Following up on this experiment, the Far Eastern Federal University has now launched a management course for the digital economy. We will ensure that other regions and universities across the country adopt these practices.
Of course, Russia’s Far East must become a platform for introducing new cutting-edge digital solutions in transport, housing and the utilities, education and healthcare, as well as in government services.
For example, businesses can already receive essential services online, including receiving construction permits, setting up companies within priority development areas, registering land titles and obtaining licenses.
Third. I am confident that the Far East can and should become a powerful economic and industrial centre with a high export potential, but this cannot be achieved without entrepreneurial energy and the growth of small and medium-sized businesses.
The business climate in the Far East should be competitive with other Russian regions and neighbouring countries. But, to be attractive to our neighbours, and the Russian part of the audience understands this perfectly, we need to go one step ahead.
This year, four out of nine Far Eastern regions made it to the Top 40 of the national investment climate ranking. This is a good dynamic, but there is still a lot to be done.
As for federal support, a number of additional solutions have already been adopted. Until the end of 2025, investors in the areas of advanced development and the free port of Vladivostok are entitled to apply for a 10-year grace period on their insurance premiums. Please note – I am calling on those engaged in business – this will be for 10 years. It is for them that the so-called grandfather clause has been added, that is, investors have thus received guarantees of unchanged conditions for the implementation of their projects.
To support both Russian and foreign business leaders, to provide them with soft-term financing, we plan to add more than 8 billion rubles to the Far East Development Fund this year. I also ask the Government to decide on the capitalisation of the Fund for the next three years.
Fourth. The Far East should fully attain its logistic potential. The large-scale modernisation of the BAM Railway and the Trans-Siberian Railway, the development of the Far Eastern ports and the Northern Sea Route will dramatically increase the transport connectivity of the APR and Europe. In the coming years, we will need to modernise border crossings in the Far East, and make the customs, control, checkpoint and other border services more convenient for individuals and businesses.
Allow me to remind you that in the next six years, the volume of container traffic by rail should increase fourfold, and the shipping time from the Far East to the western border of Russia will be cut to seven days. Traffic along the Northern Sea Route should grow to 80 million tonnes per year.
Once again, these are all worked-out and feasible plans, all the more so since such an infrastructure generates obvious interest and business demand. Right now, the first ice-class container ship the Arctic 4 is moving along the Northern Sea Route – the shortest sea route between the Far East and Europe.
This voyage from Vladivostok to St Petersburg (with an initial visit to the Korean port of Busan and then on to Bremerhaven in Germany), without exaggeration, opens up a new page in the history of commercial navigation, and confirms the safety, efficiency and relevance of the Russian Arctic and the entire Northern Sea Route as an international corridor.
We invite interested partners to develop this promising transport artery. And we already know that such projects are of great interest to our partners.
And another thing. It is obvious that the profits and benefits from transit corridors should not forego the Far Eastern regions and the people living here. Modern transport and export infrastructure should become a framework for creating high-quality jobs, new industries and enterprises, producing high-value-added products in the Far East, including, and perhaps above all, export-oriented products.
This is extremely important. It is certainly important to create export-oriented transport corridors, but it is even more important to develop our own economy and our own production.
The main users of the Far Eastern transport routes, the ports, as a rule, are large coal and energy companies. I suggest thinking about ways to encourage these Russian exporters to channel part of their revenues into effective economic and social projects in the Far East.
Friends and colleagues,
Russia and our Far East are certainly open to expanding business ties. We are confident that there is an obvious mutual benefit here. And it is not just about profit in financial reports. Joint projects in industry and science, education and culture, infrastructure and energy serve to bring countries and peoples closer together, to better understand, to know each other, to strengthen our common heritage – peace, neighbourly relations and trust in the dynamic and complex 21st century, where we pool efforts and potential to create the future.
I wish you all success and wellbeing. Thank you for your interest in the work of today’s forum.