Trade & investment

Putin assures ICC that global business concerns will be on G8 agenda

  • 5 July 2006

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who will host the G8 Summit in St. Petersburg next week, met yesterday with International Chamber of Commerce Chairman Marcus Wallenberg to discuss world business priorities, including the critical state of the Doha trade round.

Global energy security, an issue at the top of Mr Putin’s agenda for this year’s G8 Summit, and strengthening intellectual property protection were also discussed. Russia has regularly been criticized for tolerating the production of counterfeit goods.

During the meeting, Mr Putin said he supported the views of global business on these issues and that he would ensure they are discussed during the G8 Summit.

Doha Round

Mr Wallenberg said: “We told President Putin that the world business community is seeking strong leadership from the G8 to achieve a successful and ambitious conclusion of the Doha trade negotiations, which are at a critical juncture, and that this issue should be placed at the top of the St. Petersburg agenda.”

The ICC delegation handed the Russian president a statement issued to all G8 leaders on behalf of world business. The statement outlined the magnitude of what is at stake in the Doha Round and stressed that an unsuccessful round would have far-reaching repercussions.

Mr Wallenberg also told Mr Putin that ICC supports Russia’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO). “ICC strongly supports the goal of a truly global membership for the WTO, with all countries enjoying its privileges and respecting its obligations,” Mr Wallenberg said. “We look forward to the early entry of Russia into membership of the WTO.”

Mr Putin warned that Russia would stop abiding by WTO rules if it failed to get a trade deal with the United States for its WTO bid.

Noting that agricultural issues have held up progress in the trade talks, Mr Putin reminded ICC that Russia does not provide any subsidies to its farmers. “This indicates, precisely, that we are a lot more liberal than many longstanding members of the WTO,” he said. “The policy pursued by other countries today is not helping to create a level playing field for economic development, especially with regard to the developing economies.”

Energy security 

Given the predicted growth in energy demand, ICC stressed that all energy options should remain open, including nuclear.

Mr Putin replied: “We will be focusing on safety in the nuclear energy sector in St Petersburg. Modern technology makes it possible to produce nuclear energy in safe conditions, but if we want the public to feel safe and feel confident that the state is carrying out work in this area in the best way possible, we need a direct and open dialogue and we need to find the optimum solutions that will allow the state and the NGOs to meet their objectives, and chief among these objectives is the fight against poverty.”

Many international NGOs have been pressuring the Russian president to stop the development of nuclear energy.

Counterfeiting and piracy

ICC stressed that the global epidemic of product counterfeiting and copyright piracy poses an ever-widening threat to economic and social welfare. It is an illegal and often dangerous activity which touches virtually all sectors and costs the global economy approximately $650 billion annually.

Mr Putin agreed that trade of counterfeit goods is a serious problem in Russia and other countries and said he would convey its urgent importance to the leaders of the G8.

“We are ready to take a most active part in this discussion and come up with general decisions and measures to ensure that the decisions taken are executed,” Mr Putin said.

He also pledged to work closely with ICC Russia on improving the protection of intellectual property rights in Russia.

ICC’s statement made explicit recommendations on how governments can fight counterfeiting and piracy, by “gathering more accurate data on the extent of the problem, orchestrating campaigns to raise public awareness of the damage it does, improving cross-border cooperation and training of national enforcement agencies and exchanging information on best practice.”

Mr Wallenberg, who is also Chairman of Saab and the Swedish banking group SEB, was accompanied by ICC Secretary General Guy Sebban as well as Oleg Deripaska and Tanya Monaghan, Chairman and Secretary General of ICC Russia, respectively.

“A frank exchange”

Emerging from the meeting, Mr Sebban said: “We had a very frank exchange. President Putin was open and transparent with us. He understood what we were saying, took notes while we were speaking and asked questions. We are confident our concerns will be discussed seriously at the G8.”

Representatives of the local and international media attended the meeting, which lasted 45 minutes. Russian television channel, Rossiya, interviewed Mr Wallenberg after the meeting and Russia’s NTV broadcast the entire meeting.

The annual G8 Summit will take place on 15-17 July.