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Official website of the President of Russia

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Opening Remarks at a Meeting with Heads of Leading Russian Companies and Banks

July 28, 2000, The Kremlin, Moscow

Vladimir Putin: This meeting was scheduled a long time ago. I want to thank you for gathering here today.

I think that from time to time it is good to meet in an informal setting to discuss problems that arise in the country and concern business. Now I would like to bring up several basic points.

The main reason for our meeting is the Federal Assembly’s latest measure: adopting a new tax code. I would like to discuss it, learn about your expectations and listen to your ideas for what must follow and what will actually take place as a result of the new code. This is the first group of issues.

The second group is about the changes in customs duties prepared by members of the Government in charge of the economy.

We will describe to you in detail what is being planned in this field. Please let us know about any views which you think bear on this matter or should be considered in making a decision.

The third group of issues is more far-reaching. I would like you to tell me, if only in broad outline, your views on the prospects of Russia’s entry into the WTO – the World Trade Organisation; what you think about it and its timeframe and what should be done to prepare Russia for WTO admission. Because Russia will, of course, move in that direction.

The problem, I repeat, concerns the conditions of our entry and how well our economy will be protected; what measures we must take for this step to benefit the country in general and Russian business in particular.

Of course, we can and must discuss some things that have become too politicised, such as law enforcement attitudes and the relationship between business and the state. But I want to draw your attention to the fact that you yourselves have assembled this state, largely through political and quasi-political structures under you. So the least you can do is not blame the mirror. Let us talk openly about what needs to be done to make relations in this area completely civilised and transparent.

This is the list of issues we should discuss. The simplest way would be to allow everyone to speak up briefly. My suggestion is to give each person seven minutes. Let us begin from the left and move right and then sum up our open discussion.

July 28, 2000, The Kremlin, Moscow