Mikhail Mishustin spoke at the plenary session of the forum.
The Russia-Turkmenistan Business Forum is taking place in Ashgabat, on 19-20 January. An agreement to hold this forum was reached in December 2022 in Moscow as part of a meeting of the Intergovernmental Russia-Turkmenistan Commission on Economic Cooperation. The forum is being held in order to increase trade, economic and industrial cooperation between Russia and Turkmenistan. More than 300 representatives from businesses and organisations in Russia are taking part in the forum.
Mikhail Mishustin’s remarks:
Esteemed Mr Meredov,
Colleagues and friends,
I am happy to welcome all the forum participants and guests. I would like to thank the organisers and personally, President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov, for the warm welcome and hospitality. This is the first large-scale business forum in the history of Russian-Turkmen relations. I am sure that it will help establish new ties between entrepreneurs and lay the foundation for many promising projects.
Today, we are all working under unusual conditions. The global financial and economic architecture is being reformatted. The traditional mechanisms no longer work. The currencies that were considered the world’s units of account, have become unreliable. Both our country and those who seek to develop mutually beneficial cooperation with us are under severe pressure.
This is a time of great challenges, but it opens up new opportunities for us, primarily for strengthening our sovereignty in various areas, including economic, financial, and technological areas. Last year showed that Russia is coping with these new challenges. The main objectives are being resolved and our social obligations to our citizens are being fulfilled.
The economy is adapting. The decline in gross domestic product turned out to be much less than our Western opponents predicted. According to preliminary reports, the decline was only about 2.5 percent in 2022. Inflation is below 12 percent, which is better than in a number of European countries.
Russian President Vladimir Putin noted that our financial and banking systems, as well as the economy as a whole, are stable.
We sincerely value friendship, neighbourliness and strategic partnership with Turkmenistan. Trade between our countries now amounts to about $1 billion. Undoubtedly, the potential for economic cooperation is much higher. We can see good opportunities for deepening interaction and expanding areas of cooperation. To do this, we will intensify our joint work. Turkmen entrepreneurs with their high-quality and competitive products can occupy some of the niches that have been vacated by the exit of a number of foreign corporations from the Russian market.
We can talk not only about increasing trade flows, but also about creating joint ventures and building modern industrial, energy and transport facilities. And I would say that now is the best time for it. Russian manufacturers will reorient themselves from Europe to mutually beneficial projects in friendly countries, which certainly include Turkmenistan.
Many of our companies are represented at the business forum. All of them are ready to discuss specific proposals for the development of cooperation. For us, the concepts of business ethics and the obligation to fulfill contracts are not just lip service. Russia and Turkmenistan have always been and will be reliable partners for each other.
Last year, we marked the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Turkmenistan and the Russian Federation, as well as the 20th anniversary of signing the Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation. All these years, joint work has been successfully developing in the widest range of areas. And now it is reaching the next level.
The leaders of our countries, President of Russia Vladimir Putin and President of Turkmenistan Serdar Berdimuhamedov, signed the Declaration on Deepening Strategic Partnership in Moscow last June. Fourteen new agreements were signed, including on joint projects in agriculture, trade, the banking, information and transport sectors, as well as on strengthening interregional cooperation.
In all, Turkmenistan and Russia have signed almost 300 international documents. About 200 enterprises with Russian participation operate here. Energy plays a significant role in our economic relations. Mr Meredov spoke about this in detail today. At the same time, we actively develop other areas, including agriculture and the textile industry. We are ready to increase deliveries of engineering products.
One of the top priorities is the development of industrial cooperation. We have a number of major projects under way. Over the last few years, Russian manufacturers have supplied seven diesel locomotives for Turkmenistan's railways. Our trucks, especially the KAMAZ trucks, are very popular in Turkmenistan. Now together with their partners in Turkmenistan, Russian automakers are working on a portfolio of new orders for the current year.
There is a great potential in shipbuilding cooperation that should be established on a mutually beneficial basis using construction sites of the two countries.
At the same time we attach special importance to the development of international transport routes. And here our position coincides completely with that of our colleagues from Turkmenistan. We are working together to develop the North-South international transport corridor, to reach its full capacity. This will open a wide range of opportunities for businesses in building infrastructure, service and trade-logistics centres, as well as in modernising sea ports.
In particular, one of the promising joint projects under discussion is the construction of a motorway along the eastern coast of the Caspian Sea. There is a need to increase the cargo turnover of Russian and Turkmenistani ports on the Caspian Sea, and expand the supply of railway locomotives, freight and passenger cars.
Partnerships with Russian regions play an important role in bilateral relations. St Petersburg maintains close contacts with Ashgabat. The Republic of Tatarstan demonstrates consistently high dynamics of cooperation. The Astrakhan Region has many plans and projects, including in terms of establishing a regular maritime link between the ports of Olya and Turkmenbashi. In total, about 60 Russian regions are cooperating with Turkmenistan. Many of them have concluded agreements in the trade, economic, scientific and technological spheres among many others.
It should be underscored that Russia is one of the leading trade and economic partners of Turkmenistan. We intend to work actively to increase our interaction.
The Russian Government and government institutions of credit and export support will provide the necessary assistance to entrepreneurs.
Together with our colleagues in Turkmenistan we are ready to consider easing customs, veterinary and phytosanitary control procedures, and relaxing visa requirements for business travel.
During the forum, we hope to hear your ideas about forming a favourable business environment and stimulating joint projects. Nobody knows better than members of the business community which factors are holding back entrepreneurial activity and initiative.
I would like to take this opportunity to inform you about several international events scheduled in Russia for the first six months of this year. First of all, we would like to invite our Turkmenistani colleagues to the Russia – Islamic World international economic forum, which will take place in May in Kazan. Forum participants will discuss cooperation in finance, investment, entrepreneurial initiatives, high-tech technology and many other areas.
A busy agenda is expected for early June in Sochi, with a meeting of the CIS Council of Heads of Government, the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council, the Our Home Eurasia international fair of cooperation projects and the Eurasian Congress.
Naturally, I would like to invite business representatives and government officials from Turkmenistan to attend the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in mid-June. It is one of the most important business events in the world.
To conclude my remarks, I want to say a few words about the prospects of our cooperation within the regional integration format. We can see that Turkmenistan is interested in exploring cooperation opportunities within the Eurasian Economic Union.
The EAEU has proved its stability and effectiveness in the most challenging conditions, from global economic crises to the COVID-19 pandemic. Including Turkmenistan in the integration processes will have a positive impact on the country’s economy and will be helpful for all countries of the five. It will help fulfil many projects that are important for citizens of our countries.
Dear friends, I am confident that the traditionally friendly ties between Russia and Turkmenistan, the strategic partnership based on trust, mutual respect and consideration for each other’s interests will secure quality expansion of trade and economic links for the benefit and prosperity of our countries. I want to wish all forum participants a productive discussion, fruitful networking and new mutually beneficial deals.