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President Putin gives keynote address at Russia Calling! Forum

At Thursday’s plenary session of VTB Capital’s Russia Calling! Investment forum,

Macroeconomic stability. This was the most prominent item of the prepared remarks. The President reiterated firm stability to the budget rule, notwithstanding the sharp change in the external situation. He also reasserted the objective of bringing inflation down, referring to the CBR’s policy as “consistent and sufficiently flexible.” There are no plans to introduce capital controls.

Financial stability. “Additional buffers” are being created in the financial sector (although he did not elaborate on the nature of those buffers). As for the payments infrastructure, the domestic hubs for clearing existing plastic cards are already operational. In 2015, a fully-fledged national payments system for plastic cards is to be launched.

External economic relations. Deepening the business, trade, investment and technological partnerships with the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America. 30-year natgas contract with China signed in May. Use of national currencies for bilateral international trade is a serious mechanism for lowering risks; Gazprom Neft recently shipped crude oil to China with settlement in RUB. On 1 January 2015, the Eurasian Economic Union (Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan) will be activated, based on the familiar WTO principle; Armenia and Kyrgyzstan are in the process of negotiating to join the EEU.

Funding of investment projects. Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) has already secured projects for some USD 15bn. The 2015-17 budget pencils in capital injections from the government into the RDIF to support these initiatives. VEB’s capital base is to be strengthened, and additional liquidity made available to it.

Investment climate. The legislation package, designed in accordance with the roadmaps of the National Entrepreneurship Initiative, is still incomplete, with some 30 documents out of 100 yet to be drafted by the ministries. The President expects that the legislation will be adopted in its entirety by the end of the parliament’s spring session.

Privatisation. Definitely remains on the agenda. Moreover, some energy assets could be privatised in the near future. And even selected military-industrial complex enterprises, to make them more “flexible and efficient”.

Bashneft. There will be no mass revision of the results of privatisation. Individual cases, however, might fall under the review of the law enforcement agencies, and they cannot be restricted in their efforts. The President hopes that the “resolution” will be reached via civil, rather than criminal, law.

Alexey Zabotkin
VTB Capital analyst

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