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Meeting with Government members

October 25, 2023, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin held a videoconference meeting with Government members.

The discussion focused on the preparations for the winter season. A number of current issues were considered at the beginning.

The meeting was attended by First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office Sergei Kiriyenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Chief of the Government Staff Dmitry Grigorenko, Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Deputy Prime Minister – Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev, deputy prime ministers Viktoria Abramchenko, Tatyana Golikova, Alexander Novak, Marat Khusnullin and Dmitry Chernyshenko, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov. Also invited to the meeting were Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev, Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev, Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities Irek Fayzullin, Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic Alexei Chekunkov, Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov, Governor of the Moscow Region Andrei Vorobyov, and Acting Head of the Federal Customs Service Ruslan Davydov, and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller.

* * *

Excerpts from transcript of meeting with Government members

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon.

Today we will talk about the upcoming autumn-winter peak and preparations for the season.

However, let us begin with the Federal Customs Service performance in 2023. Today is the customs officers’ professional holiday, so congratulations and all the best, thank you for your work. Please, Mr Davydov.

Acting Head of the Federal Customs Service Ruslan Davydov: Thank you very much.

Mr President, colleagues,

This year, the Federal Customs Service played an active role in solving the tasks set forth in the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, as well as plans and decisions of the Government to support Russia’s economic development under the illegitimate Western sanctions.

Particular attention was given to expanding Russian foreign trade and building up new logistics aligned with the East-West and North-South transport corridors. The staffing levels of customs officers at the priority checkpoints have been increased by over 1,000. Five of the busiest border checkpoints on the Russian-Chinese and Russian-Azerbaijani borders now operate around the clock by agreement of the partners.

As a result of measures implemented jointly with other supervisory authorities and the Russian Ministry of Transport, throughput capacity at priority border sections has almost doubled.

The years-long problem of queues at the busiest checkpoints in the North Caucasus and the Far East has been practically resolved. These are Zabaikalsk, Yarag-Kazmalyar and Verkhny Lars.

Mr President, customs officers are actively involved in carrying out the task you have set for the development of the Far East.

This year, foreign trade freight turnover in the region has increased by 14.2 percent overall compared to 2022, while road transport increased 2.4 times.

Trade with China is growing most actively. In the first nine months of 2023, it increased by US$35 billion, or 27 percent. If we maintain such growth rates, the volume of Russian-Chinese trade may reach US$215–220 billion by the year’s end.

Special attention is being paid to ridding the customs-related sector in the Far Eastern Federal District of criminal activity. We are pursuing a comprehensive plan of operational and investigative measures, agreed with the Federal Security Service of Russia, to counteract the illegal export of aquatic and biological resources, smuggling of timber and timber products, as well as evasion of customs duties on imported consumer goods and cars.

Given the significant redistribution of staffing levels, the most pressing issue for organising the work of customs agencies in the Far Eastern District is the provision of housing for officials serving at border crossings. These problems are particularly acute in the Primorye and Transbaikal territories, where priority border crossings are located at a considerable distance from big cities.

We suggest considering the possibility of solving this problem by allocating additional funding to the Russian Ministry of Construction to arrange for the construction of service housing for customs officers in close proximity to priority checkpoints in the Far Eastern region.

Another important task set before the customs service is to support businesses and people, offsetting the effects of the illegitimate Western sanctions.

The peak of fiscal support measures, including various benefits, grace periods and deferred payment plans for custom dues, totalling over 1.1 trillion rubles, came last year. This year, so far, total benefits and exemptions provided have exceeded 400 billion rubles.

The measures taken helped ensure the priority import of socially significant goods and those of critical importance for the economy, and the procedure has been simplified for bringing in goods which are subject to technical control. This year, parallel imports grew at a rate of about 7 percent a month.

The custom agencies are doing their best to meet the needs of the Russian Armed Forces and defence industry enterprises. Goods brought in for purposes of the special military operation are cleared without delay. The simplified procedure was used to clear over 7,500 tonnes of such goods.

Since the beginning of this year, confiscated goods worth over 300 million rubles have been transferred to the Defence Ministry. Also, goods worth about 100 million rubles and 44 cars have been passed to the Russian Popular Front public movement, as well as to social, healthcare and educational institutions.

We have organised work in the new regions of the Russian Federation. Customs offices have been established in the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics, while the Zaporozhye and Kherson customs offices were set up as divisions of Crimean customs. Customs officers were hired and they have undergone training and have already started to perform the tasks assigned to them.

Let me express my sincere gratitude to the Russian Ministry of Construction for their energetic efforts to restore customs infrastructure facilities in the new regions.

In the interests of national security, the custom agencies will use 24 mobile inspection complexes. We have partnered with the Russian Federal Security Service to inspect goods and vehicles crossing the administrative borders with the new regions of the Russian Federation, as well as in Crimea, in the area of the Kerch car ferry and in the North Caucasus. Over 39,000 prohibited items, including weapons, ammunition and explosives, have been found.

Mr President,

The digitisation of the customs service, carried out within the framework of the comprehensive programme for the development of customs agencies in 2018–2020 approved by you, is helping to adapt Russia’s entire foreign trade system to operate under the new conditions.

Fully automatic decision-making to clear goods without the involvement of a customs officer is being actively introduced. This year, almost 85 percent of three million goods declarations were registered automatically, and more than 27 percent of such declarations were automatically issued. The issue time is two and a half minutes. Since October 20, just a few days ago, the auto-issuance option has been extended to medium-risk companies. This is the biggest category of foreign trade participants. Almost 102,000 out of 122,000 active foreign trade companies fall in the medium risk category.

The key priority in our work is to ensure the security and uninterrupted functioning of customs information systems. Recently, the issues of information security and protection of customs information have become especially acute. More than 1,500 attempts to damage the customs agencies’ information systems have been recorded since the beginning of the special military operation. All attacks have been neutralised, including the largest attempt in April this year to paralyse the work of our information systems and block foreign trade operations.

The Federal Customs Service of Russia, together with law enforcement agencies, is taking a set of measures to protect customs information and identify channels for its illegal dissemination.

Jointly with the General Prosecutor's Office and Roskomnadzor, 43 internet resources illegally disseminating customs information were blocked by court rulings. This year, 15 criminal cases were filed under part 3 of Article 183 of the Russian Federation Criminal Code.

Meanwhile, the record of prosecuting individuals in such criminal cases shows that court-ordered punishments are reduced to fines from 50,000 to 100,000 rubles. Clearly, this is not a deterrent for offenders.

This is what we propose to increase the level of customs data protection and counter threats to Russia's economic security.

First, to consider, in cooperation with other agencies and organisations (the FCS has information exchange agreements with 98 entities) a shift from routine data transfers from customs databases to supplying specific data on request, provided that there are legitimate grounds to request this information.

Second. Increase liability for illicitly obtaining, using or distributing customs data that constitutes a commercial or tax secret under Article 183 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, making these acts punishable by incarceration.

Mr President,

Over the past few years, ensuring a timely and complete transfer of funds to the federal budget has been our unconditional priority, and it remains one. As of today, the Federal Customs Service has collected more than 5.2 trillion rubles in customs duties, with 3.9 trillion of this amount coming from imports.

This amount is already 1 percent above the import revenue target for 2023. The total customs duties target for 2023 is 6.464 trillion rubles, and we will definitely achieve it as well.

In conclusion, I would like to say a few words about our international cooperation programme. On October 30–31, Moscow will host the International Customs Forum, which will include delegations from the EAEU, the CIS, BRICS countries, Iran, and Latin America. Overall, customs officers from 25 countries will be represented at the forum. Eight international agreements and cooperation protocols are planned to be signed. All of them are aimed at promoting Russia's foreign economic relations, speeding up and simplifying customs procedures, and creating better conditions for cooperation with friendly countries.

Mr President, thank you very much for your greetings. Russia’s customs officers are ready to work. We will prove worthy of your trust.

This concludes my report.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Mr Davydov, will customs earnings be higher this year than in 2022?

Ruslan Davydov: A little higher. Approximately 200–300 billion more than last year.

Vladimir Putin: I see.

Mr Siluanov, regarding housing for customs officers in the Far East. Have you discussed these additional expenses?

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov: Yes, Mr President. Mr Davydov and I have discussed this issue; indeed, employees have to travel 100 kilometres to their checkpoints. So we agreed that we will find a resource, but that should certainly be accompanied by improved collection of customs duties.

Vladimir Putin: They are improving it.

Anton Siluanov: We will find the money.

Vladimir Putin: They are improving it; 6.5 trillion rubles this year, as I understand.

Anton Siluanov: We will find the money for this task.

Ruslan Davydov: We will even surpass the target a little, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: All right, excellent.

Mr Belousov, as for Mr Davydov’s proposal related to transferring information and toughening liability for certain violations he has mentioned, what do you think of that?

First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov: I support these proposals. We have discussed them.

The only thing is that I believe we need to make an exception for exchanging information with the Federal Customs Service and the Federal Taxation Service. The Taxation Service does not receive customs data now, everything that is related to information is well-protected there, and we need to preserve the procedural order in this case. And in other cases, I think, we should gradually transition to on-demand information. I also agree about toughening liability for violations.

Vladimir Putin: Good, let us do it. So, Mr Davydov, your proposals are accepted.

Once again, happy holiday!

Ruslan Davydov: Thank you very much, Mr President.


Vladimir Putin: Mr Patrushev, as regards improving technological sovereignty in the agro-industrial sector. We have raised this issue several times and allocated additional funds to deal with several areas. How is the work going now?

Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev: Thank you.

Mr President,

We are now in the Moscow Region, at the new poultry breeding and farming centre, Smena. It opened for industrial operations this September. It is a very important step towards strengthening the technological sovereignty of the Russian agro-industrial sector.

The centre will help us significantly increase import substitution, fill the market with breeding poultry of Russian origin, so that we will be able to produce meat from Russian-bred broiler chickens.

Mr President, if I may, I would like to give some information about the situation in the sector.

Currently, our key objective is to conclude the seasonal fieldwork. Autumn sowing has already been conducted on an area of some 18 million hectares; we are proceeding according to schedule. Plans call for some 20 million hectares to be sown for the 2024 yield. It is almost 1.5 million hectares more than a year before.

Next. Harvests of oilseeds, vegetables and potatoes will exceed the average figures for the past five years. We expect that according to the Federal State Statistics Service, the grain harvest will be about 140 million tonnes in net weight, of which about 93 million tonnes will be wheat. We hope that this will be the second result in the history of our country. This amount will provide us with an optimal balance between domestic needs and execution of our export obligations.

Farmers are provided with resources for seasonal fieldwork, we have the necessary amount of seeds for autumn sowing, and, very importantly, we have a growing share of seeds of domestic selection. We continue to use special support tools for upgrading agricultural machinery: these include favourable leasing terms and a plan for the purchase of Russian and Belarusian tractors.

The purchase of fertilisers is also carried out under a separate plan. At the same time, export quotas for some types of fertilisers remain in place, while producer prices are fixed. These measures have been agreed until the end of November, and now we are working on extending them for another six months.

Of course, the situation with fuel is of particular importance to us. As a result of the measures taken by the Government, farmers are not experiencing any shortage of fuel and lubricants, and prices are gradually coming down. Nevertheless, we continue monitoring the situation.

Now I will say a few words about other areas of the agro-industrial complex. Positive year-end dynamics are also expected in livestock farming. We will reach the figures of 16.5 million tonnes in meat and 33.6 million tonnes in milk. In the finished products segment, we expect growth in such categories as cheese, sugar, cereals, meat products and vegetable oils.

In the fishery sector, the catch of aquatic bioresources is expected to exceed five million tonnes in 2023. The volume of aquaculture should surpass the 400,000 tonnes mark for the first time.

Thus, the key indicators of the Food Security Doctrine will be fulfilled. This means that the food market is saturated with high-quality Russian goods.

In addition, our production volumes allow us to increase supplies to our foreign partners as well. We expect export revenues to exceed US$45 billion this year.

(The Minister went on to report on the work to strengthen the sector’s technological sovereignty, including the development of various crop selection methods, the establishment of agrobiotechnology parks for developing domestic fermenting preparations, biological plant protection systems, the creation of new veterinary medications and the development of the pedigree livestock breeding sector. Dmitry Patrushev noted that the country had attained complete self-sufficiency in vaccines for preventing dangerous animal diseases, that it had established selection breeding herds in the pig, beef cattle, sheep, horse and reindeer breeding sectors. Work is underway to reduce dependence on dairy subsector imports. At the same time, the national broiler poultry sector primarily relies on foreign pedigree breeding resources. In 2022, Russia launched construction of the Smena-9 selection centre for chicken cross-breeding projects, and the centre became operational this past September. This unique national project has made it possible to build the country’s first full-cycle selection centre that uses the most advanced equipment and state-of-the-art poultry breeding technologies. Consequently, national chicken cross-breeding technologies will account for at least 25 percent of poultry output by 2030).

Vladimir Putin: Mr Patrushev, why has chicken meat become so expensive? In fact, nationwide poultry prices have soared by over 27 percent since the start of 2023.

Dmitry Patrushev: Mr President, we are working on this issue. I chaired a meeting with poultry producers last week. In principle, there are no serious economic reasons for such price hikes. We have spoken with poultry producers who understand their social responsibility, and who are already reducing chicken meat prices. I hope that we will see the result in the near future.

Vladimir Putin: They are businesspeople, but the Government should activate the well-known mechanisms on time. These mechanisms include poultry imports from our nearest neighbours, including Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Dmitry Patrushev: We have already accomplished this, and we have adopted the relevant decisions. We are importing poultry from Belarus and Kazakhstan in order to balance our market a bit.

Vladimir Putin: All right, but you should do this on time, and this would prevent such price hikes.

You said we will have a bumper harvest of grain crops totalling 140 million tonnes. Is that so?

Dmitry Patrushev: Yes, we hope that Rosstat will confirm about 140 million tonnes, net weight.

Vladimir Putin: This is very good. Of course, I want to thank you and all agrarians and farm workers for this. Well done, this is an excellent result. Thank you very much.

Dmitry Patrushev: Thank you, Mr President.

Vladimir Putin: We need more enterprises that, as you said, will produce enzymes, feed additives and plant protection chemicals. There are not enough Russian-made products for the development of the agro-industrial sector. What is their share, some 8–9 percent?

Dmitry Patrushev: Yes, you are right. We will boost production of these products at our facilities. Our work as part of the federal research and technical programme for the development of agriculture and the Agrarian Science project is aimed at that.

Vladimir Putin: Good. And again, thank you.

Mr Manturov, please tell us about low and medium-tonnage chemistry.

Deputy Prime Minister – Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov: Mr President, colleagues.

We have been conducting system-wide work to restore the competences in the low- and medium-tonnage chemistry sector since 2017. At that time, the Government adopted a roadmap for the development of this sector. You issued instructions in the late 2020 on the target objectives – I am talking about increasing the output of low- and medium-tonnage chemistry by 30 percent by 2025 and by 70 percent by 2030.

The work to achieve these results is being conducted as a separate federal project on new materials. Within the next decade, we plan to launch 47 main production facilities in the sector for a total of 380 billion rubles. Nineteen projects have already been implemented.

Russian enterprises have mastered the production of end products like plant protection chemicals, glues and sealers, as well as intermediate demand products for pharmaceutical companies, cosmetics, perfumes, household and industrial chemicals, lacquers, paints, construction materials, and food.

As a result, the output of low- and medium-tonnage chemistry was 4.5 million tonnes last year, which is 24 percent more than in 2020. So, we are already surpassing the target.

However, Mr President, we must allow for the changed market environment and increased demand by consumers. It is obvious that we need to move even faster. <…>

I would like to point out three main areas of work.

The first one has to do with creating a full production cycle of main substances in the country. We are producing and exporting raw materials for many items but then we have to purchase end products abroad, thus missing out on several stages. We are setting ourselves a task of filling these gaps.

The second area of work results from the capital intensity and low profitability of low-tonnage chemistry plants. To ensure the viability of the projects, we will subsidise the interest rate at the construction stage as part of a cluster investment platform. As part of this mechanism, six low-tonnage chemistry projects worth almost 100 billion rubles have been approved. We will ensure their profit margin at the operational stage. This is what business needs.

Finally, the third priority is the sector’s scientific, technological and personnel development. We will continue to provide for it at the engineering centres of our industry specific chemistry universities; there are 24 of them now. We will pick the best ones that will focus on low- and medium-tonnage segment.

Everything that I mentioned is being integrated into a comprehensive project for the import substitution of crucial chemical products. Yesterday, we presented it to the Government at a relevant strategic session chaired by Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin. We will finish this work to approve the project in the first quarter of 2024 and will continue the work we started in 2017 at a faster pace.

Thank you for your attention.

Vladimir Putin: Good, thank you very much. Let us move on to the main issue. Mr Fayzullin, please, tell us about the preparations for the winter.

(Reports on the preparations for the winter season were delivered by Minister of Construction, Housing and Utilities Irek Fayzullin, Energy Minister Nikolai Shulginov, Minister for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic Alexei Chekunkov and Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller).


Vladimir Putin: In conclusion, I would like to say the following. Climate is indeed changing, and global warming is tangible. But Russia is a northern country, and nobody has cancelled the heating season. So, I ask you to approach the issues we discussed here not as a mere formality but implement all measures on time.

I will also ask you to once again consider the issues we talked about today, and those we did not touch upon, from the practical point of view, so that there are no weak points and people do not suffer because of the tardiness of the central, regional or municipal bodies of authority. Please, look carefully into these issues and do the work on time. Taking timely measures is the most important thing. I am speaking about fuel delivery, repairs, etc.

I hope that this is how you will organise your work.

Thank you and all the best.

October 25, 2023, The Kremlin, Moscow