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AMBASSADOR'S ARTICLES

30.11.2012

Russian Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko speaks at at the annual Russian Banking Forum (28 November 2012)

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am glad to welcome you in London at the Nineteenth Russian Banking Forum, hosted under the auspices of the Adam Smith Institute. I am pleased, as a year ago, to see in the audience today the familiar faces of the leading Russian bankers, financiers and economists of the City. This annual forum is established platform for discussion of the current trends and priorities of the national banking sector, with the participation of international experts, representatives of the international financial community.

The opening session of the forum "The new mosaic of global markets and the image of Russia in the international market" will give the opportunity to discuss broader macroeconomic processes, look at the changes in the global economy and their impact on the development of the Russian financial sector. I am pleased that Jim O'Neill is taking part in the debate, the man who was one of the first to determine the trend shift of the global economic center of gravity from the developed economies toward dynamic emerging markets.

In spite of the unsustainable growth and the European debt crisis, ongoing uncertainty in the global markets, Russia is maintaining the overall positive dynamics of the key indicators. In the first half of this year, we saw a sufficiently stable economic growth, and the GDP growth outlook made by the Bank of Russia and international financial institutions for the year of 2012 varies within 3.5-4% and will remain within this range with a favourable scenario in the next few years. In order to prevent negative effect of possible escalation of the situation in the euro area the anti-crisis measures have been developed by the Russian Government, while the record low level of public debt (10% of GDP) and the accumulated amount of the Reserve Fund and the National Wellbeing Fund (145 bn US dollars) create opportunities for additional fiscal and monetary stimulus of the economy.

As far as I am informed, the Russian banks, in turn, have been withstanding rather successfully the volatility of the international financial markets. The European financial sector has a limited impact on the Russian banking system because, according to the Government assessments, Russian banks have low investments in the euro area sovereign debt, while their external financing is also insignificant against the accumulated foreign exchange funds. The recent stress tests carried out by the Bank of Russia and the IMF, have demonstrated the relative stability of the Russian banking system with sufficient resilience and low currency risks. In September the successful stock floatation of a large state-owned share of Sberbank in the public market in Moscow and in London as part of the privatization program has clearly shown that the Russian financial institutions remain attractive even amid the complex conditions in the global markets. A well-functioning national banking system is a major element of the country's competitiveness, one of the key conditions for the modernization of the economy through funding and support of investment projects, in particular with the participation of foreign partners. The more detailed information about the Russian Government’s support and development of the domestic financial market, successes and priority tasks in this area will be provided today by my colleagues, as well as the Head of the Federal Service for Financial Markets.

On my part I would like to note that the Russian market and the financial sector are still very attractive to our British partners against the background of the ongoing normalization of bilateral relations between our countries. In pursuance of the negotiations of the leaders of Russia and Great Britain, which took place here during the Summer Olympics, on 29 October London hosted the regular session of the Intergovernmental Russian-British Committee on Trade and Investment chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Igor Shuvalov and Minister of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable who were accompanied by high level business delegations of the two countries. The Joint Statement issued after the meeting noted the positive dynamics of our economic cooperation in recent years (by the end of 2011, bilateral trade increased by 33% up to 21.2 bn US dollars, the accumulated British investments in Russia on 1 July amounted to 25,7 bn US dollars.), defined priorities for its further expansion, also taking into account Russia's accession to the WTO, identified new areas of cooperation.

In this regard I would like to highlight a number of agreements, which, in my opinion, could be of interest to the Russian banks, working on export and investment projects. In particular, the Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation and Interaction in Risk Assessment between the Russian Agency for Export Credit and Investment Insurance (EXIAR) and UK Export Finance. Also there is an agreement to work together under the auspices of the Russian Housing Development Foundation. In addition, there are additional opportunities for business projects with Britain in the context of partnership with the Russian Direct Investment Fund, JSC "Russian Railways", State Atomic Energy Corporation "Rosatom", innovation center "Skolkovo", in the field of SME with the support of Vnesheconombank and Russo-British Chamber of Commerce, in modernizing Russian single-industry cities, etc.

In the sphere of financial cooperation I would also note the continued successful co-operation of the Russia-UK Joint Liaison Group on the establishment of an international financial center in Moscow, which was set up last year. Its fourth meeting will be held at the residence of the Lord Mayor of City in December, the agenda includes development of the Russian market of securities and derivatives, financial regulation, financial education and training, public-private partnerships, alternative methods of dispute resolution.

In general, the potential for further expansion of business cooperation with the United Kingdom and British partners is obvious. I am confident that the banking community in our countries will keep playing an important and traditionally active role in promoting bilateral dialogue in the economic field and the development of others areas of relations between our two countries.

I would like to wish all the participants of the Russian Banking Forum further fruitful work, interesting ideas and new successful joint projects!




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