"The economy turned out to be significantly stronger and more flexible”: Head of the Ministry of Economic Development Reshetnikov on the results of 2023, by Ksenia Chemodanova for RTRUSSIAN. 12.26.2023.
The head of the Ministry of Economic Development, Maxim Reshetnikov, spoke about the results of 2023 in the Russian economy.
The Russian economy has turned out to be much more stable than many previously imagined, and is quite confident in meeting all challenges. This opinion was expressed by the head of the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation, Maxim Reshetnikov, in an exclusive interview with RT. According to him, in 2023 the country's GDP not only returned to its growth trajectory, but also exceeded pre-crisis levels. This was largely due to the fact that entrepreneurs were able to reconfigure logistics, supply and payment chains, enter new markets and increase production. Meanwhile, ordinary Russians began to work more intensively, which led to an increase in real wages. The minister also spoke about the situation on the labor market, tourism development and the climate agenda.
— Maxim Gennadievich, how do you assess the current situation in the Russian economy? What are the key results of the outgoing year?
— Well, the president has already announced the main estimates : by the end of this year, we are expected to grow GDP by 3.5%. In general, this is a very convincing indicator.
The main conclusion: the economy really turned out to be significantly stronger and more flexible than many thought back in 2022 and even at the beginning of 2023. Entrepreneurs have done a great job of reconfiguring logistics, supply chains, payments, entering new markets, reorienting exports and imports, increasing production and finding personnel. And of course, (the decisive role was played. - RT ) by people, workers, because ultimately they create added value.
Everyone had to work hard this year, but it must be said that there was an appropriate reward for this, because we see rapid growth in wages - both nominal and real. This is precisely a consequence of the fact that I had to work more intensively. Therefore, the economy is doing well and is going through all the challenges quite confidently.
We have very good indicators on investments in fixed assets: in the first nine months of 2023, growth was 10%. Investments are growing most actively in the production of machinery, equipment, machine tools, equipment, as well as in IT and software. All this is already such a good start for next year.
Today we can easily say that the potential economic growth rate is higher than we and many experts thought before. Nevertheless, achieving these indicators requires constant effort, since new tasks arise all the time. Therefore, it is important not only to engage in current programs to support the economy, but also to build long-term strategies until 2030-2035, understand what trends are emerging, and be able to respond to the challenges of future years.
— Which sectors of the Russian economy have already fully reached pre-crisis levels, and which are still recovering?
The manufacturing industry is showing decent results. Agriculture and the food industry are also growing well.
Mining production is also doing well, although, for example, oil producers still have their own restrictions related to the implementation of the OPEC+ deal . Gas workers still face certain difficulties: according to some indicators, they have not yet recovered. However, the overall economy has already exceeded the level of the first quarter of 2022 (then it was at its peak) and continues to grow.
— This year, the unemployment rate in Russia dropped below 3% for the first time, but the authorities have repeatedly noted that the shortage of personnel is becoming a new challenge for the economy. How serious is this problem?
— Indeed, the problem with personnel is now one of the main ones, along with high interest rates. This limits further economic growth. However, the labor market has shown its flexibility, and the situation is not as acute as some analysts think. There are factors in the economy that make it possible to increase production and increase labor productivity with the same formal number of employees.
Firstly, people, in principle, began to work more, which partly explains the increase in wages. Secondly, labor productivity is growing, including due to increased investment and the introduction of lean manufacturing standards, which we have been actively promoting for six years.
Thirdly, we have great potential in attracting young people to the labor market. To do this, we need to competently organize learning processes in technical schools and universities and ensure their integration with production. At the same time, it is important to create conditions for the involvement of citizens such as people with disabilities and women on maternity leave in their work activities.
That is, the potential for growth in labor productivity in the economy is great. There is an opportunity to more effectively use available labor resources, including through increased interregional mobility.
In the end, migrant labor must also be used wisely. There's nothing wrong with that either. If they come, work, create added value, pay taxes, receive honestly earned money and leave in compliance with all established norms, rules and laws, then this is a normal practice that the whole world uses, and we also need to actively implement it. Due to this, we will be able to continue to grow calmly even with the restrictions on the labor market that exist today.
Well, plus all this should be accompanied by a transition to an economy of high wages, as the president spoke about earlier. Ultimately, task number one is to increase people's well-being.
— Vladimir Putin proposed exempting businesses from unscheduled inspections for another year . How do entrepreneurs feel in general?
— The introduction of the moratorium allowed us to solve a number of problems. At the same time, in recent years we have been carrying out a lot of systematic work related to the revision of regulatory requirements and streamlining procedures.
Since 2019, we have seen a multiple reduction in the number of inspections. If we take only business, then only high-risk objects are now subject to inspections.
Our task is to ensure compliance and control of all necessary requirements. Another point is that we need to look carefully at the mandatory requirements themselves and modernize them taking into account statistics on incidents and violations. But overall there has been great progress on this issue. Everyone notes this, including entrepreneurs. This is one of the results of four years of intensive work by the entire government.
— Last year, your department was given powers to develop tourism. How is the industry doing under external restrictions? How much has the domestic tourist flow changed this year?
— According to the latest data, over ten months the increase was 19%. The internal tourist flow is growing very intensively, since the demand is quite high. Of course, in some cases this is accompanied by an increase in prices due to a lack of supply. Therefore, all our efforts in the past year were aimed at maximizing the growth of tourist accommodation options, primarily at the construction of hotels.
Recently, funding for the tourism industry has increased by an order of magnitude, especially if you look at the volume of tax benefits provided. It is extremely important to us that businesses direct all resources and efforts to investment. That is, they believe in themselves, in the market, in the industry, in the country and in the Russian tourist. It is clear that, for example, building a large hotel is simply pointless and it is necessary to create some kind of point of attraction. All these processes are now going on very intensively.
We expect that the share of tourism in the economy will increase significantly, not only due to domestic tourist flow, but also due to the active attraction of foreign guests. Russia has something to offer the world. Yes, travelers from Western countries come to us less often now, but we are not closed to anyone. Of course, we are waiting for tourists from China, India, Arab states, and Southeast Asia and are creating visa concessions for this, as well as developing flights.
Tourism has a serious synergistic impact on the entire economy, because there are hotels, transport, museums, and catering. The main thing is that not only megacities are setting the bar, but small towns have also caught up. We are experiencing growth in rural tourism, development of special economic zones, skiing, and so on. Tourism pulls everything else along with it and is the result of the development of other national projects. For example, we have carried out a large program for the reconstruction of regional airfields and airports in recent years. That is, not only the industry itself is developing, but also the regions and the country as a whole.
— The Russian delegation spoke at the 28th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and you noted that in the context of the restructuring of global production chains, it is important to develop Russian green, low-emission technologies. What are Russia’s plans for the climate agenda for 2024-2025?
— The topic of climate is extremely relevant and has a planetary scale, but there is still no single global approach to solving existing problems. Different countries are promoting different agendas.
For example, Western countries... trying in every possible way to limit the use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas), are introducing their technologies related to wind and solar. What's behind this? In many ways, an attempt to fix the gap between the developed and developing world and strengthen its competitive advantages. Because the developing world cannot catch up and achieve some average level of development without increasing electricity consumption, and its generation from new sources costs many times more than the competent use of fossil resources with minimal CO2 emissions.
At the same time, reducing emissions alone cannot solve the global problem. After all, only 8-10% of CO2 entering the atmosphere is of anthropogenic nature, that is, associated with human activity, and everything else appears under the influence of non-anthropogenic factors, and here the issue of absorption is more relevant.
Russia is in favor of a more balanced approach. We propose to engage not only in reducing, but also absorbing emissions, as well as adapting the economy to new environmental conditions and global warming.
Europe, under the slogan of this transboundary carbon regulation, is trying to protect its uncompetitive markets and uncompetitive economy. By abandoning Russian hydrocarbons, the EU caused a sharp rise in energy prices along with the impoverishment of the population and, in fact, triggered economic degradation , and is now trying to prevent others from developing normally.
However, many countries are still based on the interests of their national economy, so there is a very difficult dialogue going on here. And our main task is to shape our green carbon agenda. We already have carbon units that reflect exactly the amount of CO2 emissions that we have managed to reduce or absorb. On the international track, we want to promote the topic of mutual recognition of carbon units between countries, so that we can further build various formats for their exchange.
— What joint projects in the green sector is Russia implementing? What countries have stable relations with partners in this area?
— First of all, with the BRICS members. As part of its chairmanship of the organization next year, Russia proposes to make the climate agenda, its impact on trade and the economic development of countries, one of the key topics of discussion.
We will also continue to synchronize issues with our colleagues in the EAEU. More broadly, we plan to expand cooperation with the countries of Central Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
— How do you assess the work of the Ministry of Economic Development in 2023? What are the department’s plans for 2024?
— We have largely completed the list of assigned tasks. At the same time, we face a big challenge—adjusting tools to support investments, taking into account high interest rates . We are now discussing this in the
government. There are many moments that simply require constant attention. For example, we now have seven special economic zones: three are new, and four are being expanded. We are developing cooperation with business within the framework of the Agreement on the Protection and Promotion of Investments.
Issues of financing various projects are also under constant control: here is our interaction with VEB.RF, and work within the framework of the project financing factory on super-projects that change the economy of regions and entire industries. On the agenda there are issues of the development of small and medium-sized businesses, which also need to be constantly addressed.
Earlier, at a meeting with the president to sum up the results of national projects, an assessment was made, with which I agree, that there is no shame in the past year and the efforts made. The indicators we achieved owe a certain amount of credit to both the Ministry of Economic Development and the entire system of government bodies. However, there are also a lot of tasks and developments for 2024.
Celebrating the New Year is a big illusion for us, because on January 8 we will all come to work, and Santa Claus will not take away anything from the tasks that we face and will not give us any new solutions. You'll have to do everything yourself.