Выступление Посла России в Швейцарии С.В.Гармонина на встрече с представителями общественности и деловых кругов Швейцарии (г.Цюрих)
Dear Dr. Goekmen,
Dear ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to warmly welcome all the participants of today’s meeting organized by the Schröder Bank which provides us with a great opportunity to talk about the current state and prospects of the Swiss-Russian relations as well as to exchange opinions on urgent issues of international politics or to discuss any other pressing questions that are of interest for you.
As far as the Swiss-Russian relations in general and economic and trade cooperation in particular are concerned, I can state that over the last few years the cooperation between the two countries has been developed rather steadily despite a difficult international political background. The extent and the quality of the dialogue on governmental, parliamentarian and ministerial tracks have remained at the high level.
In this context, I would like to mention a working visit of Federal Councilor Johann Schneider-Amman, the Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research, to Moscow in July 2017 where he held meetings with the First Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Igor Shuvalov, the Minister of Industry and Trade Mr. Denis Manturov and the Minister of Economic Development Mr. Maxim Oreshkin. Schneider Amman also visited Yekaterinburg to participate in the International Industrial Exhibition “Innoprom”.
Bilateral contacts on the high level continued also in 2018. In January of this year two Russian-Swiss meetings took place within the framework of the World Economic Forum in Davos: Minister of Energy Alexander Novak met Doris Leuthard, the Head of Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications while Minister of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin held the meeting with Johann Schneider-Amman, the Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research. It is also worth mentioning that about 60 large Russian companies participated in this year’s World Economic Forum. Then, in February of this year, there was a working visit of the Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation
Mr. Viacheslav Volodin. During his visit in Bern the head of the lower chamber of the Russian parliament met representatives of the Swiss political establishment and business community. Viacheslav Volodin held a substantive conversation with Swiss businessmen on problems that Swiss companies are facing during their activities in Russia. The Chairman of the Russian State Duma promised to render necessary assistance through parliamentary channels to solve these issues. In May of this year the Deputy Chairman of the Federation Council – the upper chamber of the Russian parliament - Mr. Yury Vorobiev visited Bern to continue bilateral dialogue within the framework of the parliamentary group of friendship “Russia-Switzerland”. In May of this year the Swiss delegation headed by the State Secretary for International Financial Issues Mr. Jorg Gasser participated in the working program of the 22th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.
Cooperation between Russian regions and the Swiss cantons have also developed systematically over the last years. The delegation of the “Joint Chambers of Commerce Switzerland – CIS countries” headed by its president
Mr. Guy Mettan visited the Chechen Republic, the Republic of North Osetia and the Republic of Dagestan in May 2017 and then the Republic of Bashkortostan and
Khanty-Mansi Autonomous Region in October 2017.
In December 2017, here, in Switzerland, there was a road-show organized by the Ministry of Investments and Innovations of the Moscow region in the cantons of Fribourg, Basel and Zurich. In March of this year the canton of Geneva received the President of the Republic of Tatarstan Mr. Rustam Minnikhanov with his working visit. The head of this region of the Russian Federation held a number of meetings with business community representatives of local authorities as well as participated in the working program of the "Swiss-Tatarstan Business Forum" in Geneva.
In June of this year the Vice Governor of St. Petersburg Mr. Sergey Movchan had a working visit in Switzerland, held negotiations with a number of Swiss industrial companies and visited their enterprises.
I should also mention my colleague - the Ambassador of Switzerland in Russia Mr. Yves Rossier, who proved himself to be very active on the economic track. In the first half of 2018 the head of the Swiss diplomatic mission accompanied by Swiss businessmen visited the Perm Region, the Republic of Tatarstan and the Republic of Ingushetia and many other regions and cities of Russia.
In June of this year the leaders of Swiss political establishment – the President of the Swiss Confederation Mr. Alain Bierce and the Head of the Federal Department of Defense, Protection of the Population and Sport Mr. Guy Parmelin have been in the Russian cities of Rostov-on-Don and Kaliningrad to support the Swiss Nati during the FIFA World Cup in Russia. They also met the representatives of local authorities of the Rostov and Kaliningrad regions to discuss the prospects and modalities of possible cooperation. Using this opportunity, I’d like to congratulate my Swiss colleagues with successful play of your football team at the FIFA World Cup and wish further success to Swiss Nati at this tournament.
This year a number of consultations between the two foreign ministries as well as other departments has already taken place. Coming autumn in Bern we are planning to hold the 19th session of the Joined Intergovernmental Commission on Trade and Economic Cooperation between the Russian Federation and the Swiss Confederation. The previous one was hosted in May 2017 in Moscow.
And now let me briefly inform you on the recent developments in the Russian economy. I would like to draw attention of our Swiss partners to the fact that today a new macroeconomic reality was formed in our country with inflation rate being the lowest in the Russian history - 2,5%. And we can state that the general stability of economy was created. According to the results of 2017 the growth of the Russian economy was 1,5% (this year we expect it to be 1,9%). Gold and exchange stocks of the country, which amount to approximately 443 billion US dollars, have also grown. Foreign trade is being rapidly restored. In 2017 the volume of foreign trade in general has grown by a quarter, and as for Switzerland – by 22%. The agroindustrial complex of our country is proceeding to a new model of development. It is becoming the largest non-oil exporting sector of our country’s economy. According to the results of 2017, the export of food and agricultural products amounted to 21 billion US dollars. The export of agricultural goods has exceeded the arms export with its 15 billion US dollars of arms sales. Russia, as the result, has become the world’s wheat export leader and second ranking country in the export of all kinds of grain crops. We can surely indicate the steadily decreasing dependence of the federal budget on the situation in the oil market. While in 2014 oil and gas revenues amounted to 51,3% of the budget, the same value in 2017 was already about 39%. Oil and gas revenues in the next three years are expected to make up only one third of the budget revenues.
As we can see, our actions are positively interpreted by business circles: the trust and willingness to invest in the Russian economy, including by foreign businesses, are steadily growing. This is another distinctive feature of the new quality of the Russian economy. Direct foreign investments inflow in the non-financial sector of the economy for the first three quarters of last year has reached 25 billion US dollars. It is two times higher than for the same period in 2016 and is the absolute maximum for the last four years. The exchange rate of ruble has also stabilized (1 Swiss franc is now about 63 Russian rubles).
Many European capitals are increasingly realizing that sticking to the policy of economic sanctions against Russia will not bring them anything, but new financial losses, lost profits and unemployment growth. The volume of losses for Europe has already exceeded 100 billion US dollars. University for political research in Kiel (Germany) announced in May this year that Germany is losing monthly over 620 million euro due to economic sanctions against Russia and has already lost about 42 thousand working places. According to the data of the European Center for Entrepreneurship and Political Reforms it is just the Swiss economy that lost about 2,4 billion of US dollars after the restrictive measures in regard to Russia were taken. It means that following the imposition of EU and US sanctions against Russia the exports volume of the Swiss production has dropped by 26% compared to the pre-sanction period.
Niches on the Russian market left behind by the European companies are rapidly occupied by their competitors from Asia, Latin America and what is most astonishing by the companies from the USA which government demands Europe to keep pressing Russia. This is not everyone in Europe who likes it.
We have a feeling that our Swiss partners also feel tired of anti-Russian sanctions. We are detecting signals from the Swiss partners indicating the willingness to bring business cooperation with Russia back on track. We welcome such intentions and are ready to cooperate.
We continue to maintain contacts with various Swiss business institutions and companies that have long been present on the Russian market. Currently there are in Russia some 600 Swiss companies with Swiss assets and over 60 thousand employees.
It is worth to note that none of these companies has left our country since 2014. A number of large Swiss companies for example such as “ABB”, “Nestle”, “Novartis”, “LafargeHolcim” have already invested over 10 billion US dollars in construction of new production facilities in Russia and their further development. The CEOs of these companies, who are determined to keep working in my country, are members of the Advisory board on foreign investments in Russia headed by the Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
Some 40 thousand jobs in Swiss firms and companies were created with Russian capital. Russian banking subsidiaries Sberbank AG and Gazprombank registered in Zurich play important role in securing investment flows. They have sufficient capabilities at their disposal for realizing various infrastructure and innovation projects as well as import substitution in Russia.
Investment cooperation between Russia and Switzerland is in an upward trend. Russian investment stock in the Swiss economy as of October 1 2017 amounted to 21,55 billion US dollars (14,26 are direct investments, 7,29 debt investments). While Swiss investment stock in Russian economy for the same period amounted to 15.27 billion US dollars (9.28 billion are direct investments).
Since September 2016 we have also been observing positive trends in bilateral trade. According to the Russian Federal Customs Service trade turnover in 2017 increased by 22% and amounted to 6 billion USD. Russian export increased by 27,7% and reached 3,8 billion while import grew by 13,2% and totaled 2,2 billion US dollars.
The turnover in services with Switzerland increased by 20% and reached 6.89 billion USD compared to 2016. Russian export in services among them amounted to 3,92 billion (+23,2%), import – 2,97 billion (+16%).
As you know, Russia and Switzerland joined the Common Reporting Standard of the OECD on automatic exchange of information in tax matters and now are determined to establish this exchange in bilateral format. Several consultations were held on this issue between representatives from the Federal Customs Services of the Russian Federation and the Swiss Federal Department of Finance. On the margins of G20 meeting of finance ministers in Baden Baden in March 2017 finance ministers from our two countries Mr Siluanov and Mr Maurer discussed this issue. Swiss experts in the field of information security were received in Moscow. Russia and Switzerland are expected to launch the information exchange in January 2019.
Switzerland that did not apply anti-Russian sanctions and only took measures to ensure that its territory cannot be used to circumvent the sanctions demonstrated a pragmatic approach. This approach is turning into a window of opportunities for entrepreneurs wishing to enter our market. Russia is a dynamically developing, promising, capacious market with population over 147 million people. Working conditions in Russia are improving every year. So, in the ranking “Doing Business 2018” Russia is on the 35th place (last year Russia ranked 40th). Our goal for the near future is 20th place and even higher. Russian regions are actively competing over foreign investors, pursuing policies of investment hospitality.
We are aware of the desire of Swiss partners to develop cooperation with Russia and its citizens. We appreciate it and want to say again that we are open towards cooperation with everybody who is interested to work with us, doing business honestly and keeping the balance of interests.
It is obvious that despite the existing restrictive regimes, current conditions and economic difficulties Russian market will still remain attractive for the Swiss export-led economy.
We believe that Switzerland has good prospects if it invests in creating new innovative production sites in Russia, cooperating with us in the field of high technology, energy efficiency, medicine, pharmacy, engineering, manufacturing, chemical, food industries as well as in the waste disposal. Swiss experience is in high demand in the area of small and medium business.
I wish the participants of today's event fruitful work and success in business, including with Russian partners.
Thank you for your attention.