Medvedev Makes Business Pitch

ReutersMedvedev and Grigory Rapota, the presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, inspect a model of a highway on Thursday in Krasnodar. Story, Page 2.
First deputy prime minister and presidential candidate Dmitry Medvedev provided some insight into his ideas for the economy Thursday, saying that the best way to reduce technology dependence was to buy the companies producing the technologies the country needs.

Medvedev told participants in a Krasnodar business forum organized by the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, or RSPP, that the acquisition of such companies would allow for the upgrading of domestic firms and the mastering of new markets.

"One way to reduce dependence on imported equipment is to acquire foreign companies or at least buy stakes," Medvedev said, Interfax reported. "This is a very important objective. Many large countries are doing this and some, like the Peoples Republic of China, are doing so actively. We could be as well."

The RSPP represents the country's largest companies, and the Krasnodar event attracted leading business tycoons such as Basic Element owner Oleg Deripaska and LUKoil CEO Vagit Alekperov. Later Thursday evening Medvedev met with board members, including Alekperov, RSPP head Alexander Shokhin, Renova chairman Viktor Vekselberg and Russian Railways head Vladimir Yakunin.

The forum was billed as an opportunity to discuss the country's business climate and attractiveness for investors at the regional level, and in a clear pitch to the businessmen, Medvedev stressed the country's need for "a clear-cut and predictable economic policy."

"It is important for your colleagues and [other] entrepreneurs to understand the principles clearly on which economic policy is based -- the location of energy supplies, the program for the exploitation of natural resources, the development of transportation and infrastructure and, finally, the regulation of prices for monopolies."

Medvedev also said that government has an obligation to domestic businesses in the world market.

"Business must be assured that it would always receive support from the government in the world market," Medvedev said, Interfax reported. "That is the obligation of the state."

During his stop in Krasnodar, Medvedev joined local officials, including Governor Alexander Tkachev, on a visit to an exhibition of regional investment projects.

Medvedev, who said he logged onto the Internet during a break in the conference, made a discovery that led him to predict even more robust growth for the year ahead.

"Unlike the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, the State Statistics Committee reports that GDP growth in 2007 was 8.1 percent, which looks very good for our country," Medvedev said, RIA-Novosti reported.

On Monday, the ministry reported GDP growth of 7.8 for last year.