In the run-up to the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland (17-18 June) and the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (20-22 June), Vladimir Putin gave a long and rather dull interview to RIA Novosti on Russia’s priorities in foreign economic policy. Slon.ru has selected the most significant themes:
What can be expected from these G8 and G20 meetings?
Putin has outlined the themes of each of these forums: at the G8 meeting this year (the UK is chairing) the main political questions to be discussed will be the situations in Syria, the Middle East and North Africa, and Afghanistan. In the economic sphere, the discussion will focus on “perfecting the system of taxation and increasing the effectiveness of state governance, and also the elimination of obstacles in international and regional trade.” As for the program of the future G20, “the discussion will be about a search for answers to new threats to security, up to the global level.”
Another international institution – the IMF – needs radical reform
Putin says the International Monetary Fund (IMF) should not be closed. The opening of new councils, funds and other international agencies are also no panacea. Putin’s recipe for curing the IMF is as follows: “Rebuild the system of distribution of quotas and votes in the IMF. Increase the role of the developing countries including our BRICS partners.”
Yet another focus of foreign economic policy – curtailment of off-shore companies
Putin’s recipe for fighting tax havens, which the US and UK are also fed up with, is as follows: “Russia proposes concluding bilateral agreements with the off-shore and low-tax jurisdictions. Such documents should be aimed at opposing ‘grey’ schemes of minimizing taxation; exchanging tax information; and implementing universal recommendations developed within the framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).”
Russia’s entry into the WTO indicates the readiness of the Russian economy for change
Putin assesses Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) positively. The problems that exist (for example, “a number of countries block access without grounds of Russian goods in the domestic market of mineral fertilizers, chemicals, petrochemicals, automobile fuel, pipe and steel manufacturing”) can be resolved through negotiations. What is important is that Russia has brought its trade law into compliance with international standards and can rest easily.
Russia remains a socially-oriented state
Western countries have gone too far with creating a dependency culture – sometimes it is more profitable to receive welfare than it is to work. But Russia is still far from such a situation: “A socially-oriented state is not a whim, but a necessity, because for many years, obligations to the most vulnerable segments of the population were not fulfilled, and are still not completely fulfilled.”