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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

State Investment Not Priority, Ivanov Says

First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov presented his economic policy Wednesday, walking a fine line between state control and private investment.

Ivanov, considered a top candidate to succeed President Vladimir Putin, could be more interventionist than his chief rival, First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, some analysts say.

But in more than two hours fielding questions from reporters about his industrial policy, Ivanov -- more used to talking about Army reform and weapons systems -- emphasized that he would not blindly pursue state intervention in the economy.

"It doesn't matter what color the cat is as long as it catches the mouse," he said. "If you want my opinion as a citizen: there can be both state participation and the participation of private companies."

"We have gone for the principle: your technology in exchange for our market. And a lot of major foreign companies have felt this and are coming to our market more and more," Ivanov said.

Ivanov, who as defense minister boosted defense spending, sought to stress that foreign companies and private investment had a place in Russia's economy.

"Taking his statements at face value, his statements sound as encouraging as one could hope to expect -- at the very worst it sounds like business as usual in Russia," said Roland Nash, head of research at Renaissance Capital.

Ivanov said a lack of electricity capacity and poor infrastructure was holding back growth.

"One of the key principles I am convinced of is that the state must not have tough control over the development of separate sectors of the economy and industry, but should create understandable and clear conditions," he said.

"The conditions that would sponsor the arrival of business no matter where from, Russia or foreign ... above all in those sectors where Russia has a host of advantages ... to allow Russia to diversify its economy away from dependence on raw materials."

When asked about foreign investment in the energy sector, Ivanov cited Norway where he said the state had full control.

"The policy of the Norwegian authorities in relation to using oil and gas resources arouses in me the deepest respect for its rational approach, including the fund for future generations and the development of technology," he said.

"The country was so competent at using its natural riches that they did not want to join the European Union," he said.

 Ivanov rejected ending a ban on Polish meat imports, prolonging a clash with the European Union, which sees nothing wrong with the quality of Polish meat.

"We are not a rubbish dump and we don't want this kind of meat," Ivanov said.

"This issue needs to be resolved without politicizing it," he said, adding that he did not understand why the EU was interfering in a bilateral issue between Russia and Poland.

On Monday, Putin urged ministers to "intensify" dialogue to resolve the dispute and to take into account "the interests of our partners."

Reuters, Bloomberg