Gaidar Forum 2013: Conference "Russia and the World: Challenges of Integration"

From January 16 to 19, 2013 in the framework of the Gaidar Forum 2013 there was held a traditional international research and practical conference "Russia and the World", arranged by Gaidar Institute, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration and Yegor Gaidar Foundation.

This year the main subjects of the conference were the integration of Russian economy with global trade, improvement of business climate in Russia and prospects of Russian companies in the world market. The moderators of plenary discussions and the main speakers at the forum were members of the RF Government, heads of a number of the RF Subjects, leading Russian and foreign economists, as well as culture celebrities.

Opening the first plenary discussion, Vladimir Mau, Rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration focused on the specifics of the event and its agenda: "Gaidar Forum is a forum of experts, involved in the development of practical recommendations".

Alexei Kudrin, Chairman of Board of Guardians of Gaidar Institute of Economic Policy has outlined a range of subjects for discussion, expressed confidence that in the framework of the forum there will be found new solutions and new ideas for macroeconomic policy coordination. Among positive developments he noted Russia's joining to the international conventions and to international trends of barriers neutralization. In particular, he mentioned the abolition of restrictions on the movement of capital and a more simplified visa regime, resulting in the liberalization of financial sector and labor market.

Speaking at the forum, Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvedev has set an objective to "ensure the transition to the trend of sustainable economic growth at least at the level of 5% of GDP". He also noted that the sustainable development of Russia requires to implement a large package of institutional reforms and modernization of various sectors, and thus, it is necessary to focus on solving such problems as: inflation curbing and ensuring macroeconomic stability through the "long-term predictable fiscal policy"; labor market improvement and facilitation of geographical and occupational mobility; improvement of investment incentives and extension of private loan resources; creation of conditions for the active development of education and healthcare; balanced regional development, promotion of competition between territories for investors, and finally, strengthening the position of Russian economy in the international sphere.
Anton Siluanov, the RF Minister of Finance, highlighted the need to strengthen financial regulation at the global level and the control over financial institutions in the country. The Minister recalled the existing shortage of sources of economic growth, but added that the main objective is to increase the attractiveness of the Russian economy to investors.
Speaking about the options for economic development, Alexei Ulyukayev, First Deputy Chairman of the Bank of Russia, noted that "investment reputation of Russia is far worse than the key indicators of its economy". Ulyukaev warned against increasing budget expenditures, having highlighted that "the Russian economy needs structural and institutional reforms".

Ksenia Yudaeva, Chief of the RF Presidential Expert Department, Sherpa of the Russian Federation, supported the representative of the RF Central Bank, noting that "the growth of the Russian economy is only possible by improving labor efficiency ".

Discussing the new configuration of the global financial system, HansTimmer, Director of the Development Prospects Group at the World Bank, said that "fiscal incentives are becoming ineffective, therefore,"in order to maintain the economic security, the countries need actively to share information and coordinate international monetary policy. Robert Mundell, Nobel Prize Laureate in Economics, agreed with the representative of the World Bank, and characterized the lack of coordination as the biggest threat to the global economy. Otaviano Kanuto, Vice-President of the World Bank regarded the absence of super protectionism as the best news.

On the second day of the Gaidar Forum Russia's commitment to comply with WTO rules was discussed.

"Russia is not competitive in global terms, we have to play by the international standards, but do not know the rules of the game", described the situation Herman Gref, Chairman of the Management Board & CEO of Sberbank of Russia. He also noted that today Russia's competitiveness is domestic in nature, and “it should go out to the international level, and in the first place to start with the quality of public administration".

"To improve the competitiveness of Russia in domestic and foreign markets, in the first place it is needed to address the issue of technical upgrading" - said Denis Manturov, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.

Experts also expressed their views on the task set by the Russian government to take the 20th position in the DoingBusiness rating, which demonstrates the attractiveness of the investment image of the country by 2018 (by the 2012 results, Russia holds the 112th place).

In view of Augusto Lopez-Claros, Director of Global Indicators and Analysis Group at the World Bank, "reforms in Russia are going in the right direction". Evidence of improving the investment climate in Russia is the upgraded rating of DoingBusiness. However, he added, that further progress in the rating of Russia "will require a coherent policy from the country leadership."

"In Europe, there is a serious risk of a long-term recession. Russia has demonstrated a greater resistance than European countries. This situation needs to be used for the development of industry and opportunities to keep away from dependence on natural resources. It is required to develop a favorable business environment, and then the capital will flow to the country, which will develop the necessary industries ", expressed his opinion Mihal Rutkovski, the World Bank Country Director for Russia.

According to Anatoly Chubais, Chairman of the Board of OAO "RUSNANO", increasing the competitiveness of Russia is possible only in case of transition to the innovative economy and the creation of new, non-resource development mechanisms ". Standing still is impossible, we must significantly increase the pace of economic development", said A. Chubais.

"Russia has abundant natural resources, human capital and assets, and the combination of those three components provides a range of possible solutions, allowing to transfer to a new model of economic development", said Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World Trade Organization. He expressed confidence that Russia's accession to the WTO has allowed it to maintain the potential of the economic development through joining the model of global economy.

"2013 will be a turning point on the way of overcoming the crisis", said Angel Gurria, Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Speaking of the advantages of the Russian economy, including a small amount of public debt, low unemployment and high level of education, he added that the OECD sees the "convergence of the Russian economy with the economies of developed countries".

Viktor Khristenko, Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission, told about plans to set up the EurAsEC on the basis of Customs Union. According to him, "the accelerated integration of different economic systems can help to overcome many of the crisis events".

On the second day of the forum a number of round table discussions were held on current issues with participation of the leading staff members of Gaidar Institute, including: "Challenges of monetary policy in Russia" (moderated by Pavel Trunin, Head of Monetary Policy Department and attended by the Institute researchers Alexei Mironov and Sergei Narkevich), "Taxation of alcoholic beverages: specifics and prospects" (moderated by Ilya Sokolov, Head of Budget Policy Department), "Customs Union and prospects of tax system harmonization" (moderated by Natalia Kornienko, Head of Tax System Development Department, speakers were Senior Researcher Elena Velikova and Department Researcher Natalia Postnikova), "The results and the lessons of agrarian reform in the former Soviet Union" (moderated by Natalia Shagaida, Head of Agricultural Policy Department, attended by Leading Researcher Vasily Yuzun), "How forecasts are made in Russia?" (moderated by Marina Turuntseva, Head of Short-Term Forecast Department), "Trade Policy of Russia: Challenges and Prospects" (moderated by Alexander Knobel, Head of Foreign Trade Department, the speaker was Georgy Idrisov, Head of Industrial Organization and Infrastructure Economics Department), etc.
Competition for human, economy of education, economy of culture, issues of efficient healthcare system were the main subjects for discussions on the third day of the forum. Representatives of the Russian government, the well-known Russian and foreign economists and cultural figures took part in panel and round table discussions.

Olga Golodets, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, began her speech by stating that "the success of economic development is highly dependent on the quality of human capital"; in competition for the human there needed new professional standards, which "will explode the entire system of professional training ".

Vladimir Mau, Rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration said that "the current crisis is the crisis of the social state"; in these conditions, first of all institutional, rather than financial transformation is of great importance, especially in healthcare and pension system. He also highlighted that "Russia has the advantage of macroeconomic stability, but here, like in other countries, there is no experience in building a new model of the state".

Mikhail Shvydkoi, Alexander Arkhangelsky, Gennady Khazanov, Alexander Lyubimov, and others took part in the discussion on the sensitive issue "Crisis of culture and culture of crisis".

"When it comes to the crisis of culture, we should at the same time speak of the crisis of the public. Philharmonic hall is visited by 1.5% of Russia's population, museums - by 3%, theaters – by 7%. And the stem of these problems is found with primary school". The dismal statistics was presented by Mikhail Shvydkoi, President of the Russian TV Academy and Special Representative of the RF President for international cultural cooperation. "Culture has become a commodity, its value system is transformed, it is not in demand now" - continued his thought M. Shvydkoi.

On the fourth and final day of the conference the youth forum "Russia and the world" was held. It was opened with a solemn ceremony of awarding the winners of competition in research and design work of students and graduate students "Sustainable Future of Russia", organized by the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration and ACIG Group. Experts evaluated the ideas and proposals of projects’ authors in terms of legislation development work, noting that some of them may initiate amendments to the legal framework, in particular, to the draft law "On youth policy".

The youth forum was attended by the RF Minister Mikhail Abyzov and the RF Minister of Communications and Mass Communications Nikolai Nikiforov.

Within four days of the forum there were discussions on the key trends and models of global integration processes that affect the political and economic development of countries. Also at the conference for the first time in Russia the Russian version of the global BetterLifeIndex, which allows to compare population welfare across various countries by 11 indicators, affecting quality of life.
Gaidar Forum, one of the most important international events in the field of economic policy, this year attracted a record number of participants - over 3,500 visitors and more than 250 experts from nearly 40 countries.