Putin trolls Macron over 'huge' French investments in Russia
A single Finnish company invested the equivalent of almost half of all French investment in Russia, President Vladimir Putin told his counterpart Emmanuel Macron at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).
“Finland’s Fortum invested €6 billion in Russia, while the whole of France invested €15 billion,” Putin said jokingly. Moments earlier, the French President boasted about the figure, proudly stating his country was second among Russia's foreign direct investors.
According to Putin, the Finnish energy firm was an example that the Russian economy is open to foreign investment, pointing out that the company was given access to sensitive objects in Siberia.
The Russian president said France is an old and reliable partner of Russia, as well as Germany. "We very much count on the fact that our French friends, companies will develop in Russia, will receive income and profit.”
Putin also noted that Russian-French business ties are diversified since the countries work in many spheres from space to pharmaceuticals. But Russia's leading economic partner is now China, not France or Germany, Putin pointed out.
“Trade with Europe was worth $450 billion once, now it has fallen by half. With China, trade is going to reach $100 billion soon,” the president said.
Macron, who spoke before Putin at SPIEF, said that France wants to become the largest direct investor in Russia. "The source of motivation is that our French enterprises now employ 170,000 Russian citizens,” he said. The French president added that, in the last 10 years, no French company quit the Russian market despite the troubles in the Russian economy, it is a “strong signal”.
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