June 10, 2007

"RUSSIA – SCENARIOS for 2020" PLENARY SESSION

Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum

Sergey Ivanov, First Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation, opened the meeting with the following words, “Since the times of Peter the Great the Northern Capital has been a lively symbol of change. Russia has always been willing to rely on global experience when facing challenges of modernization. Due to our ability to consider the achievements of other nations we achieved high growth rates. We often hear our western colleagues say that Russia and West are moving along separate ways. But they seem to forget one common truth that one and the same purpose can be achieved in different ways. Russia is an integral part of European civilization. What will it be like in 2020? Russia will form a system of institutions where personal security will be considered a priority; the influence of civil society on the economic situation will grow substantially. Considering the GDP volumes by 2020 the country can, and must become one of the five strongest economies in the world. By that time GDP per capita will amount to 30,000 US dollars. Russia will become a market leader. But which markets? Nuclear power engineering, aircraft and shipbuilding, carrier rockets, space launches, nanotechnology, software. Information technologies market will grow more than 2 times. Fifty percent of the population will belong to the middle class. A lot of effort should be applied to achieve these goals. We’ve seen these intentions fail many times. Now we are realistic about the opportunities and challenges we are facing. In creating our strategy we can fully rely on the high level of education of the Russian people, and on their ability to learn new things”.

Sergey Ivanov also noted that weak innovative activity is observed in Russia. He considers natural resources to be an important source of economic development and, still, he thinks that lots of the success depends on exports. “Geography,” Ivanov remarked, “is our competitive feature.”

According to Ivanov, Russia currently has a solid budget surplus. Russia is not only an importer; it is also a big exporter. The fast growing Russian market opens up broad opportunities. But there are still lots of areas that are out of competition now. Existing monopolies and corruption prevent the development of small and medium business. The quality of state services is very low. The conclusion is that Russia needs to use its resources more effectively.
Today, Russia’s main target is the creation of information society. It is not just an abstract term; it is the availability of a wide range of information services. Creating new technological parks. The creation of the Russian Venture Company is a key to this process. Eight to twelve new venture funds will be created in 2007. “Special attention is paid to raising competitiveness of high-tech industries. For example, we want to make the Russian aviation industry the world’s third in civil aircraft production. Russia is planning to take up to 10 percent of the world’s civil aircraft engineering market. We are also expecting a threefold increase in the shipbuilding industry output.

Nuclear power industry is the subject for further development. Traditionally, Russia has had a considerable potential in this area, both home and export. For example, it is only in Russia, that construction of unique floating nuclear power plants based on nuclear reactors has been launched. The share of nuclear power generation in Russia’s energy balance will increase considerably”, Sergey Ivanov said, outlining Russia’s plans for the future.

The plenary meeting was also attended by Gerhard Schroeder, the former Chancellor of the German Federal Republic. He expressed confidence in reliability of partnership between Russia and Germany in the field of energy. “Russia has been a responsible partner in respect of energy supply. And I am sure it will be this way in the future as well. Chaos in Iraq and Iranian nuclear program pose dangers. But there is a strong partnership in the energy sector between Germany and Russia. Russian energy supplies are essential for our economic success”, declared Gerhard Schroeder.

Russia offers Europe its hand in cooperation. Such a conference is an important contribution to the development of events.

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