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Putin Addresses Participants of the BRICS Business Forum
Unlike the marathon meeting on Russia’s strategic economic plans that preceded it, Putin’s address to the BRICS Business Forum that opens the Summit was only 15 minutes. But in that short span a great deal was covered in line with the topic, "BRICS and Africa: Partnership for Joint Accelerated Growth, Sustainable Development and Inclusive Multilateralism". And now the transcript:
Vladimir Putin: Dear President Ramaphosa, Ladies and gentlemen, Dear friends!
I am pleased to welcome representatives of government agencies and businesses, experts and industry experts who have gathered for the BRICS Business Forum.
I would like to note that the regular holding of such business forums, as well as the systematic work of the BRICS Business Council, which brings together leading businessmen and heads of the largest companies of the five countries, really plays a great practical role in promoting mutual trade and investment, deepening cooperation ties, expanding direct dialogue between business communities, and therefore, in fact, contributes toeconomic growth of our countries and achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
It is important that the forum focuses on such urgent tasks as ensuring the post-pandemic recovery of the BRICS economies, improving the well-being of citizens, modernizing industry and building efficient transport and logistics chains, and stimulating fair technology transfer.
All these complex and complex tasks have to be solved against the background of ever-deepening volatility in the stock, currency, energy, and food markets, and in the context of significant inflationary pressures caused, among other things, by the irresponsible actions of a number of countries to conduct large-scale emissions to smooth out the costs of the pandemic, which provokes the accumulation of private and public debt.
Illegitimate sanctions practices, the illegal freezing of assets of sovereign states, and in fact the violation of all the basic norms and rules of free trade and economic life, which not so long ago seemed unshakable, also have a serious negative impact on the international economic situation.
A direct consequence of this was the lack of resources, increasing inequality, rising unemployment, and exacerbation of other chronic problems of the global economy. Prices for food, basic agricultural products and cereals are being pushed up, which affects the most vulnerable poor countries first.
It is important that in such conditions the BRICS countries strengthen cooperation, and our joint work to ensure economic growth and sustainable development brings concrete, tangible results: new infrastructure and investment projects are being launched together, commodity exchanges are growing, and industry contacts are expanding.
Most importantly, we cooperate on the principles of equality, partnership support, and respect for each other's interests, and this is the essence of the strategic course of our association aimed at the future, a course that meets the aspirations of the main part of the world community, the so-called global majority.
The numbers speak for themselves. Over the past decade, mutual investment by BRICS member States has increased sixfold. In turn, their overall investment in the global economy has doubled, and their total exports have reached 20 percent of the global total.
As for Russia, our trade turnover with BRICS partners increased by 40.5 percent and amounted to a record more than $ 230 billion, and in the first half of this year, compared to the same period in 2022, it increased by 35.6 percent to $ 134.7 billion.
I would also like to note that the share of the Association's countries with more than three billion people living in them has reached almost 26 percent of global GDP, and the five countries surpass the Group of Seven in terms of purchasing power parity: the forecast for 2023 is 31.5 percent versus 30 percent.
An objective, irreversible process of de-dollarization of our economic ties is gaining momentum, and efforts are being made to develop effective mechanisms for mutual settlements and currency and financial control. As a result, the dollar's share in BRICS export-import operations is declining: last year it was only 28.7 percent.
By the way, during this summit we will discuss in detail the whole range of issues related to the transition to national currencies in all areas of economic cooperation of the five countries. Of course, the New BRICS Development Bank, which has already confidently established itself as an alternative to the existing Western development institutions, plays an important role in such efforts.
It is logical that one of the priorities of the five countries ' cooperation as a whole is to strengthen connectivity and create new sustainable transport routes. Of particular importance in this context is the BRICS Business Council's initiative to develop modern intermodal logistics solutions and develop railway transport corridors.
For its part, Russia is actively reorienting its transport and logistics flows to reliable foreign partners, including those from the BRICS countries. Our flagship projects include the Northern Sea Route and the new North-South international transport corridor. These two through arteries are designed to provide the shortest and most economically optimal trade routes connecting major industrial, agricultural and energy hubs with consumer markets.
Speaking about the Northern Sea Route, I would like to emphasize that Russia has adopted and is implementing a large-scale plan for the development of its infrastructure, which will last for decades. It is planned to build fuel terminals, hub ports for connecting with road and rail transport, and expand the icebreaking fleet, primarily due to nuclear-powered vessels that have no analogues in the world.
In turn, the North – South transport corridor will connect Russian ports in the northern seas and the Baltic Sea with sea terminals on the coast of the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean. This will create conditions for increasing cargo transportation between Eurasian and African countries. In addition, new production facilities, trade and logistics facilities will naturally develop along this very corridor.
Russia is in favor of establishing closer cooperation within the BRICS on issues of reliable and uninterrupted supply of energy and food resources to world markets. We are consistently increasing the supply of fuel, agricultural products and fertilizers to the countries of the global south, making a significant contribution to strengthening global food and energy security, solving acute humanitarian problems, and fighting hunger and poverty in countries in need.
All these issues, in particular, were discussed in detail during the recent Russia-Africa summit. So, last year, trade in agricultural products between Russia and African countries increased by ten percent and amounted to $ 6.7 billion, and in January – June of this year it increased by a record 60 percent. Our country is and will continue to be a responsible supplier of food to the African continent.
Russian grain exports to Africa in 2022 amounted to 11.5 million tons, and in the first six months of 2023 – almost ten million tons. And this is despite the illegal sanctions imposed against us, which seriously hinder the export of Russian food, complicate transport logistics, insurance and bank payments.
Russia is deliberately obstructed in the supply of grain and fertilizers abroad, while hypocritically accusing us of the current crisis situation on the world market. This was clearly reflected in the implementation of the so-called grain deal, concluded with the participation of the UN Secretariat and initially aimed at ensuring global food security, reducing the threat of hunger and helping the poorest countries.
We have repeatedly drawn attention to the fact that a total of 32.8 million tons of cargo were exported from Ukraine during the year under the deal, of which more than 70 percent went to countries with high and above-average income levels, including, first of all, the European Union. And only about three per cent was accounted for by the least developed countries – that is, less than one million tons.
None of the terms of the so-called deal regarding the withdrawal of Russian grain and fertilizer exports to world markets from sanctions was implemented. Obligations to Russia in this regard were simply ignored. They even prevented us from transferring mineral fertilizers blocked in European ports for free, although this was a purely humanitarian action, which should not be subject to any sanctions in principle.
Taking into account the aforementioned facts, we have refused to extend this so-called deal further since July 18 and will be ready to return to it, but only if all our obligations to the Russian side are actually fulfilled.
I have repeatedly said that our country is able to replace Ukrainian grain both on a commercial basis and in the form of gratuitous assistance to states in need, especially since we are again expecting an excellent harvest this year. As a first step, we decided to send 25-50 thousand tons of grain to six African countries free of charge, including providing free delivery of these goods. Negotiations with partners are coming to an end.
Among the priority areas of cooperation, we also see further coordination of the BRICS participants ' approaches to supporting small and medium-sized enterprises. This is an important part of the overall economic agenda of the "five" countries, which implies assistance to the broadest segments of citizens engaged in business in matters of administrative and tax regulation, digitalization, e-commerce, and participation in value chains.
I would like to note that thanks to state support programs, BRICS entrepreneurs are also successfully adapting to the ever-changing situation on global markets, finding new partners and new sales channels, attracting additional funding, and increasingly using modern technologies.
It is equally important to continue developing cooperation within the BRICS countries in the areas of decarbonizing the economy, reducing anthropogenic impact on nature, and adapting to climate change. Russia is ready to work together to promote more balanced approaches to climate issues in the international arena.
The national strategy for low-carbon development is being consistently implemented in our country. We plan to achieve carbon neutrality of the Russian economy no later than 2060, including through the introduction of technological innovations, modernization of infrastructure for access to inexpensive and clean energy, and conservation of ecosystems on land and sea. At the same time, we believe that a wide variety of technologies can contribute to the achievement of climate goals, including those that have been used for a long time, such as nuclear generation, hydropower, and gas motor fuel.
Summing up, I would like to emphasize once again that the multi-faceted partnership and cooperation within the BRICS framework not only makes a significant contribution to ensuring the sustainable growth of our countries, but also generally contributes to improving the situation in the global economy and successfully achieving the UN global development goals and tasks to combat poverty, expand public access to quality health services to eliminate hunger and strengthen food security.
Therefore, I would like to express my confidence that the BRICS Business Forum and the BRICS Business Council will continue their creative work aimed at deepening contacts between the business circles of the five countries and jointly implementing new mutually beneficial projects.
In conclusion, I would like to invite representatives of the business circles of our countries to come to the Eastern Economic Forum in Russia, which will be held on September 10-13 in Vladivostok, where issues of interest to the BRICS business community will traditionally be discussed.
Thank you for your attention.
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