Putin noted that the Economic Council of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is still operational despite the difficulties and that the meeting at the end of April was the fourth time since 2016. According to historical records, France was and remains a key economic partner for Russia, which occupies a high but not sufficiently high place, in 6th place among EU countries in terms of cumulative investment in the Russian economy and in 5th place in volume of ‘trades.
Despite some decline in mutual trade in 2020 (it is down 14% from 2019), the ultimate figure is quite acceptable at $ 13 billion. French investments in Russia are around $ 17 billion, while Russian investments in France are around $ 3 billion.
More than 500 French-owned companies operate in various sectors of the Russian economy. French companies occupy a particularly important place in the Russian energy and energy complex, in the automobile industry and, of course, in the food industry. “It could have been more if the French regulatory and state authorities had treated Russian companies like Russia treats French companies. We appreciate that in a difficult economic environment, French companies present in Russia have not reduced their activity, ”Mr. Poutin underlined.
The Russian government has created the Advisory Council on Foreign Investments, which includes six French companies. In addition, it is possible to discuss specific issues related to the economic and investment climate in Russia, and this opportunity is traditionally offered at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which will be held from June 2-5.
French companies are involved in the implementation of world famous flagship projects, such as the construction of the Yamal LNG and Arctic LNG 2 facilities and the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. regret the number of political speculations concerning the latter. I would like to stress once again that this is a purely economic project, it has nothing to do with today’s political considerations. “
Russia intends to increase its aid for the development of science and technology. The funds will mainly be directed to innovation sectors such as pharmaceuticals and biotechnology, nuclear and renewable energy and the use of carbon emissions.
“We want to involve foreign companies wishing to invest in Russia and in projects that we consider to be of high priority. To do this, we will continue to use preferential investment regimes and execute special investment contracts, as you know. Many French companies successfully use these tools in the Russian market. For example, more than a third of the 45 special investment contracts have been signed with European partners, including French, ”he explained during the meeting.
He also referred to the continued efforts to attract foreign companies to localize their production to state procurement and to implement National Development Projects, as well as the existing opportunities for French companies in special economic zones. Today, 38 such zones are created throughout the Russian Federation.
Russia pays special attention to attracting high-quality foreign specialists. Their employment is accelerated and their families can now obtain an indefinite residence permit. There are plans to launch a special “golden visa” program to issue a residence permit in exchange for investment in the real economy, a practice used in many other countries.
In turn, the co-chair of the Franco-Russian Economic Council of the ICC, Gennady Timchenko, noted that the pandemic has changed the world, people and businesses, and that French companies in Russia are responsible employers and socially members. officials of Russian society.
Despite the crisis and the geopolitical situation, a number of French companies have started production in 2020-2021. Companies like Saint-Gobain and Danone have renewed their investments. French companies have increased their exports of products made in Russia; they invest in priority sectors of the Russian economy. For example, this year the French company Lidea is launching a factory called Tanais to produce seeds. Russia depends on importing 30 to 60 percent of these seeds, according to various estimates.
Despite the current geopolitical conditions and the information realm, there are important signals for French companies and the Russian side to strengthen economic cooperation, attract investment and create partnerships on a new mutually beneficial basis.
The Co-President of the ICC France-Russia Economic Council, Patrick Pouyanne, noted that the meeting has become an excellent tradition, the presence of 17 CEOs and Deputy CEOs of French companies shows the importance of these joint meetings, and still reflects the deep interest in French affairs in Russia.
In addition, Patrick Pouyanne also presented some insights into Russian-French cooperation. By 2020, twenty members of the Economic Council have invested a total of 1.65 trillion rubles, supporting 170,000 jobs. These companies have been operating in Russia for decades and continue to invest in the Russian economy despite sanctions and the epidemic. These companies help France maintain its status as the second largest investor in Russia. In 2020, France invested more than a billion dollars in Russia despite the economic difficulties caused by the pandemic.
In conclusion, Patrick Pouyanne underlined that economic operators believe that everyone will benefit if Russia, France and all of Europe are not divided or isolated. This is the challenge today. Indeed, diplomacy must continue to play an important role in the settlement of disputes and companies are convinced that such meetings create bridges between Russia and France to strengthen investment and economic cooperation.