Article by Vladimir Putin published in the German business newspaper Handelsblatt

Submitted on Fri, 07/07/2017 - 09:15

Ahead of my trip to Germany to take part in the Summit of the Group of Twenty, I would like to share some thoughts about cooperation within the G20 framework with the readers of Handelsblatt, one of the most popular and reputable German newspapers.

Over the years of its existence, the Group of Twenty has established itself as an important mechanism for aligning the interests and positions of the world’s leading economies. By taking coordinated action, the G20 contributed to the adoption of necessary measures that not only helped overcome the financial and economic crisis, but also laid the foundation for improving global governance, which has found itself in dire straits for a number of reasons. Importantly, by working together we have been able to find solutions to a number of long-standing issues.

For instance, Russia highly values practical steps to counter base erosion and profit shifting to so-called ‘safe havens.’ All economies suffer from such practices. Irresponsible corporate behaviour of this kind affects the quality of life of millions of people, resulting in high social costs.

Implementation of the financial regulation reform is another achievement of the G20. For example, special regulations for those banks whose bankruptcy would be undesirable or too risky because of their size.

For the first time in history, supervision bodies started monitoring transactions in the non-bank, “shadow” financial sector. Decisions regarding the key attributes for preventing and overcoming bank sector crises, organising the work of deposit security agencies and a number of other initiatives have had a major impact.

Of course, the creation of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) was a major step forward. On the back of its efforts, financial regulation reform took on a system-wide dimension and became routine, while the FSB established itself as an important partner of the IMF in its regular risk assessment studies. The FSB’s creation led to the emergence of similar structures on the national level.

Even against the backdrop of growing geopolitical risks and uncertainty, the G20 has not become less efficient as a global governance tool. This is largely attributable to the exceptional responsibility demonstrated by its presiding countries in fulfilling their mission. I am saying this based, among other things, on Russia’s own experience, since our country chaired the Group of Twenty in 2013, and benefited from substantial support and encouragement from all of its partners.

The success of the G20 is based on respect for the opinions and position of each member, regardless of the size of its economy and its place in the international monetary and financial system. Constructive discussions and the search for compromise have become the signature style of the G20, the unwritten law of relations, which its current President – Germany – is also putting into practice.

The upcoming meeting of the G20 in Hamburg is an opportunity to discuss key issues on the global agenda. We share the priorities of Germany’s Presidency and we are ready to help implement them, provided this continuity is maintained.

We welcome the decision to expand the agenda addressed by the G20 to include sustainable development, climate change, countering terrorism and corruption, healthcare, migration and refugees. It is very important that the Group is giving more attention to the digital economy as a growth driver and a new factor of global governance thanks to China’s Presidency in 2016 and Germany’s Presidency this year.

We are facing several major challenges. The old economic models have all but exhausted their possibilities. Protectionism is becoming the norm, while unilateral, politically motivated restrictions on trade and investment, as well as technology transfer, are nothing but masked protectionism. We believe that these sanctions are not only doomed to fail, but also run counter to the G20 principles of cooperation in the interests of all countries.

I am confident that only open trade based on common norms and standards can stimulate global economic growth and the gradual improvement of interstate relations. Just as it is set forth in the fundamental principles of the World Trade Organisation’s activities.

The G20 is doing substantive work on combating climate change. Human activity is greatly increasing the burden on the planet’s environment and is hence complicating the achievement of sustainable development goals. As a leading country within the international climate process,

Russia has exceeded its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol. In other words, we have compensated the growing emission in other countries and regions. We view the Paris Agreement of April 2016 as a reliable international legal framework for a lasting climate settlement and intend to do our best to facilitate its implementation.

Over the past few years, the G20 has been working on the issue of migration. According to the UN, in 2017 labour migrants will remit over $500 billion to developing countries. This is three times more than the volume of official development assistance or foreign direct investment.

The G20 has been working on issues related to the migrants’ integration in the host countries’ labour markets, as well as their cultural adaptation and social protection. In addition, the G20 has formulated decisions this year that could help settle the issue of forced displacement. They are based on the strengthening of regional and global stability and the economic growth of the countries that are generating the unprecedented numbers of refugees.

Security of and in the use of ICTs is a new issue on the G20 agenda. Russia consistently advocates free access to communication technologies, including the Internet. We consider it highly important to protect human rights in the information space. At the same time, freedom in the digital sphere, just like in any other, should by no means be replaced by permissiveness and impunity. This leads to a rampage involving cyber-criminals, hacker groups and all those who encroach on the privacy of individuals or the sovereignty of states by using cutting-edge technologies.

Russia, which was among the first countries to note the danger of this challenge, has for several years been advocating the conclusion of universal international agreements under the UN auspices that are called on to combat these negative phenomena. We hope this will evoke a positive and interested response from other countries. The G20 agenda should also include digital literacy issues, a key element of protecting consumer rights in e-commerce.

I would like to note that various opportunities opened up by the digital economy and a switchover to new industrial and technological patterns simultaneously increase the gap in the development levels between rich and poor countries and aggravate inequality between various social strata. Therefore, our efforts should focus on people, their interests and concerns. I consider this to be a key-priority for G20 activities.

Obviously, the G20 can make a weighty contribution to strengthening the stability of the global economy and to maintaining its balanced development. Only by acting together and pooling our efforts can we overcome the current imbalances, ensure sustainable growth, develop fair trade and competition rules, reduce poverty and resolve acute social issues.

The Russian delegation will be actively involved in the work of the Hamburg summit, which I am sure will be highly productive. I wish our German colleagues every success in organising the summit. And, of course, we will team up with our G20 partners in implementing the agreements that will be reached at the meeting.

In conclusion, I would like to wish all Handelsblatt readers and all Germans health and prosperity.