TRANSCRIPT: [Putin at] Conference Into the Future: Russia’s Role and Place

Sberbank File Photo

(Kremlin.ru – November 10, 2016)

Vladimir Putin took part in the international conference Into the Future: Russia’s Role and Place, organised by Russia’s oldest bank, Sberbank, to mark its 175th anniversary.

The conference focused on forecasting and analysing future technology trends, discussing the main outlines for technological development, and examining the potential benefits and risks their mass use could bring.

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, friends,

Thank you very much for your welcome and applause.

We all share the holiday mood today as we mark the 175th anniversary of Sberbank, Russia’s oldest and biggest bank. This is a very solid age, even for a bank.

It is a pleasure to congratulate the bank’s workers and managers with this impressive anniversary and wish you all new success. You already have successes to your name, but I wish you new achievements.

As a leader in Russia’s financial sector, Sberbank is always moving forward, constantly improving its competitiveness, following modern trends and developments around the world closely, and placing its stakes on ongoing and rapid introduction of the latest technological and management innovations. It has plenty of advice to offer, including to the Russian Government. It is not by chance that the theme of this conference, which marks the bank’s anniversary, addresses the challenges and opportunities that scientific and innovation development bring our way.

The world has developed tremendous technological capability today, but there is no doubt that we are still not making full use of its potential. We see this reflected in the fact that recognised global economic power centres are failing to reach high and sustainable economic growth rates.

At the same time, the leading countries see innovation as an integral key component of this latest stage in global development and set their social and economic strategies in accordance.

For Russia, it is important to seize the key trends in technological progress and understand our strong points and weak points in the transition to the next-generation economy. Everyone present here today is well aware of this new economy’s main outlines. They include high mobility and convenience in provision of goods and services, that are available when and where you wish, at a simple click or touch of a telephone or tablet.

Digital technology is having an impact on all aspects of our society today. We see before our very eyes the changes digital technology is bringing to old and stable sectors such as healthcare, pharmaceuticals, energy, and to the urban environment and our lifestyles in general.

These global changes open the road to dramatic increases in labour productivity (this is something I discuss frequently at meetings with colleagues from the business community), and create unique opportunities to develop new market niches and obtain real advantages.

At the same time, this process does come with considerable risks too, above all for the countries that fail to ride the technology wave. Of course, this leaves them at risk of ending up on the margins of progress and becoming outsiders in the competitive struggle.

New technologies can also make traditional sectors less attractive, and changing demand for skills and automation of production processes, without the needed system for retraining human resources, can result in structural unemployment.

This is all comprehensible and elementary, things we know from back since when the industrial revolution began in England. We remember the social upheavals that took place, the strict sticking to the workplace rules as a means of striking, the people who destroyed new equipment and so on. It is an old problem that has not changed.

Finally, we cannot close our eyes to cybersecurity threats. Network access systems and the digitalisation of public and personal life require reliable protection of citizens’ interests and those of the country as a whole. We must give full consideration to technological progress’ opportunities and also its potential risks and form an effective national technological development strategy in accordance.

In this respect, what are the tasks before Russia today?

First, we need systemic measures to stimulate our domestic information technology industry.

This sector has become a real driver of our national economy over recent years, and this is very pleasing to see. The volume of works and services sold in this sector has more than doubled since 2010, for example, and came to 740 billion rubles last year. This is very solid growth even compared to growth in other economic sectors. Just for reference, some experts estimate that Russian IT sector exports came to $6.7 billion in 2015.

Let me just compare this with the situation in other sectors. IT exports came to $6.7 billion, and our arms exports came to $14.5 billion in 2015. You can see that these civilian sectors will soon catch up to arms exports. Our agricultural produce exports were up to $16.2 billion. These are all very good figures.

We know examples of Russian companies that have become global leaders by offering innovative and competitive solutions. Many of these companies’ CEOs are here today.

We must ensure that more and more Russian companies and organisations have the capability not just to develop technology, but also to commercialise it in the form of final, commercially successful products.

I ask the Government to make an inventory of everything that is obstructing the development of such companies and draft measures for removing the barriers that still remain.

Today’s digital economy is based on qualified and high-paid labour. We must improve the quality of our education at all levels. Our people and our specialists should have the knowledge and skills they need to be able to master rapidly advanced production methods and provide and obtain services using the new technological base.

We will continue adapting our professional education to the economy’s current and future needs and form a skills system that will be responsive to the emergence of promising new and cutting edge technologies.

We have approved a list of the most in-demand new professions. This makes no claim to being some kind of exhaustive list, of course, but it gives us a base at least. We need to put in place all necessary conditions for our young people to be able to receive the most effective training possible in these fields, at a level that meets the highest world standards and strives to be a step ahead.

We must complete the approval of professional education standards and ensure their implementation in schools, colleges, institutes and other educational establishments.

Finally, it is crucially important that all of our initiatives and long-term plans to develop the new digital economy are implemented immediately throughout the Eurasian Economic Union. In other words, they should extend beyond our national borders and reach out to this entire regional organisation.

In this respect, we will also work together with our integration partners and in close contact with market players to develop regulatory frameworks for technology transfers and protecting intellectual property.

Friends, Russia has immense technological development potential. Turning this potential into concrete production facilities, goods and services that will have demand both at home and abroad is a crucial condition for ensuring faster, more stable and sustainable economic growth.

I am sure that our joint efforts can strengthen Russia’s position among the ranks of the global technology leaders.

Once again, I want to thank the bank’s heads for choosing this particular subject for today’s discussion. I particularly want to thank all of the bank’s partners and our foreign guests for finding the time to come and join us here to exchange experience, talk, and discuss this very important area.

Thank you very much for your attention. I will leave you now with my very best wishes for success. Thank you very much.

[featured image is file photo, not directly connected to post subject matter]