12 December 2017
Moscow: 20:53
London: 17:53

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PRESS RELEASES AND NEWS

24.10.2017

Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko met Lord Mayor of the City of London Dr Andrew Parmley

On 20 October Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko met Lord Mayor of the City of London Dr Andrew Parmley. The issues of Russian-British trade and economic relations were discussed. Specifically, the Ambassador briefed the Lord Mayor on the current situation in Russian economy as follows.

Tough challenges, including weak global growth, low energy prices and Western sanctions have been used by the Russian Government to put the economy of our country in order. Difficult, but sound decisions provided macroeconomic stability in Russia, forming the basis for a balanced and sustainable growth. So far, most of the problems have been overcome, and we have adjusted to the new, tougher terms of trade and economic environment, that some call deglobalisation.

The Russian Government has been working hard to minimize negative external effects and to secure structural change of the economy. A well-timed anti-crisis programme was launched and has proved successful. The Government is actively scaling down the dependence on commodities and implementing structural reforms. Russian economic growth in the second quarter of 2017 reached 2.7%, bringing the 1H 2017 figure to 1.5%. This is the beginning of a new trend presenting balanced economic development of our country. The main industry indicators show that Russia will have another record grain harvest this year and thus reclaim the position of the world’s largest wheat exporter. We also witness strong growth in car demand, up 18.6% year-on-year (y-o-y) in this July.

Y-o-y inflation fell to 3.3% at the end of August, down from 4.4% at the end of June, which allowed the central bank to make a 50-bps rate cut at the 15 September policy meeting. The regulator also indicated that it is likely to cut further during the next two quarters. Russian international reserves hit $418 billion at the end of June, their highest level since 2014. This September, Fitch credit agency has upgraded Russia’s sovereign credit rating from "stable" to "positive”, stating that Russia continues to make progress in strengthening its policy framework underpinned by a more flexible exchange rate, strong commitment to inflation targeting and a prudent fiscal strategy, reflected in the recently approved budget rule”. This policy mix, from the Fitch experts’ point of view, “will result in improved macroeconomic stability and, together with robust external and fiscal balance sheets, increases the economy's resilience to shocks”.

Current Russian public debt is low. Obligations for external debt repayment will have decreased from $130 bn in 2015 to $80 bn by the end of 2017. The federal budget deficit remains at safe level and will be financed by loans, which should not exceed the ceiling of 17% of the GDP. That is much lower than in the EU member states. Despite the difficulties, the government is meeting all of its social obligations in full. The unemployment rate stays reasonable.

Over past two years the financial stability of Russian banking system was restored. Its profits grew 5 times over the year. The volume of bad debt saw no increase. Loan portfolio remained stable without marked decrease. Dollarization of the economy (deposits and loans in US dollars) has reached 24%, which is much less than in other emerging markets (in some countries this indicator is 60-70%). Bank of Russia has also announced the launch of the Emergency Liquidity Assistance Mechanism (ELA) to provide emergency support for banks which are not able to get support in the usual way. Strict set of criteria was set for providing any such support.

Overall, the Russian economy is on a trajectory of sustained growth in the coming months making most international economists revise upwards their forecasts up to 2-2.5% growth in 2017. We believe that foreign direct investment will increase substantially. We welcome major foreign companies and investment funds with serious long term interests in investing in the Russian economy, its bond and stock market. The Russian Government is committed to providing every help and support to companies starting or continuing their business in Russia. Current ruble rate makes Russian assets very attractive for purchase. Real sector companies, including agriculture, pharmaceutical, car and other industries will benefit from localising their production in Russia.

We are quite confident that 2018 will drastically improve prospects for the Russian economy, further raising its attractiveness for foreign investors, including those from the UK.

The Ambassador expressed an opinion that in terms of Brexit the UK has a good opportunity to strengthen the economic cooperation and smooth over political contradictions, which are not Russian-caused, between two countries. In addition the Ambassador invited the Lord Mayor to visit Russia.




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