This post first appeared on Russia Insider
Russian TV regularly broadcasts a few minutes from Putin's cabinet meetings, and they are sometimes a great insight into how his top team understands what is going on in the world.
In this gem, Putin is obviously eager to hear what Davos was like this year. He blew it off, as did most world leaders, but he sent a minister, and the minister gives his assessment - Davos was a dud this year.
This doesn't appear to be staged, and is far more transparent than news reporting in the US.
Very interesting. Transcript below:
Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues. Today we will discuss tourism. Before we start working, I have a question for a tourist.
Mr Oreshkin, tell us about your work with our colleagues at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the meetings you had and whether you have anything interesting or useful to report. Please.
Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin: Overall, the forum was a rather negative experience.
Vladimir Putin: What? What?
Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin: The international mood has greatly worsened over the past year, also because the global economy was rapidly losing momentum in the last quarter.
Vladimir Putin: The IMF also mentioned a downswing.
Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin: The IMF first said so in January. In other words, they have only started adjusting their forecasts, even though negative trends became apparent in the fourth quarter of 2018.
Second, socio-political tensions are growing, with the French yellow vest protests and other events. Taken together, this had a negative impact on the forum participants. Representatives of major companies and countries are aware of the rising problems but they do not see any solutions to them. It is clear that some countries have reacted to this by trying to replace domestic problems with a foreign agenda, including sanctions and trade wars.
All of this is the result of domestic political issues, which ultimately lead to global problems. One of the reasons for the slackening economic growth is the trade wars, which are splitting the world into separate blocs and destroying the system that was effective for the past years.
Vladimir Putin: How much has the global trade system lost as a result of all types of restrictions?
Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin: According to the WTO analysis for last year, the global economic growth shortfall was around $500 billion, which is a great deal. All this is having a negative impact on the economy. We recently had a WTO ministerial conference.
So far, there are no visible solutions to the current problems because the countries involved are not ready to seek agreement. A large group of countries, including Russia, are willing to look for solutions. No US delegates attended that conference, which means the problems will persist.
In fact, solutions to global problems are unlikely to be found until domestic political problems are settled.
In terms of the Russian delegation’s work at the forum, the outcome was positive. We had a great deal of bilateral meetings with representatives from France, Switzerland, Portugal, Turkey, Qatar and South Korea, as well as with OPEC delegates. We had many other meetings to discuss bilateral cooperation. The attitude towards Russia is positive.
We have joint projects with all of these countries, and we are working to implement them. I would like to add that our European partners have changed their attitude to Russia. It is gradually improving because the Europeans are seriously frustrated with what the United States is doing, in particular, increased steel and aluminium tariffs and several other things.
Vladimir Putin: We have nothing to do with this. It was a separate [US] decision regarding the European economies.
Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin: Exactly.
In our opinion, all the business people who wanted to attend [the Davos Forum] did so and discussed the issues they wanted. The forum organisers said that certain Russian business people would not be welcome at Davos. But I met with them, and they apologised for their actions last year. The conflict can be considered settled, but there is an unpleasant aftertaste, of course.
Vladimir Putin: Fine. Thank you very much.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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