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The view from St Petersburg: Catherine Thibaut

With business and economic leaders gathering for the St Petersburg International Economic Forum Business RT spoke with Catherine Thibaut, Managing Director of Troika Dialog about the importance of the forum and the economic outlook for Russia.

RT: What are investors hoping to get from this forum? What are you hoping to get from this forum?What do you think comes out of all this?

CT:“Well the firm certainly putting a lot of hopes of investors coming to this place.I think there is a lot of hopes in terms of getting a sense of the direction of the Russian economy, and how it is being involved into the global economy.A lot of hopes into networking and getting acquainted with the right partners and some contacts, and certainly the business part of it, the business potential is certainly there on the table, and there will hopefully be a bunch of agreements and contracts signed during the forum.”

RT: Right now, how would you rate the Russian investment climate and what do you think could be done to improve it?

CT:“Right now I would rate the Russian investment climate as an improving investment climate.Definitely there has been a lot of changes, and a lot of challenges to be addressed.The good thing is that the challenges are addressed, they are formulated, which is already a good step in the right direction. The implementation of these steps is going to be very much under scrutiny and it is always already the challenging part.But definitely the direction is set and it’s going forward.”

RT: So, those challenges that you see affecting Russia, do you think the government has a good handle on them? And do you think that the perception of them from the outside world, the challenges of investing in Russia, something that’s being addressed?

CT:“The government certainly has addressed and is formulating them.Obviously on top of the list is investment climate – the corruption, graft.You know, the long term perspective of your investments. So the grasp of the government is definitely on these items.But how, really, now it is going to be implemented and how, you know, monitoring of these initiatives through the, will be followed, is also the responsibility of the businesses of the international community, in helping these businesses to follow them.”

RT: How do you think Russia can establish a long term relationship with investors?

CT:“By being transparent, by being really what the partner needs, that is for the long term.In certainly making sure that the rules of the game of the cooperation are very clearly set out and presented.So that there is a big chunk of, in terms of, you know, redrafting the legislation.As we talk about steps being taken and perception.Obviously there is a big gap between the two, and Russia has always been a victim of the perception, and that needs to be addressed. And if Russia addresses it then certainly it is going to be in a very much better shape to address these perceptions.”

RT: And next year there are the presidential and legislative elections coming up here in Russia.Do you think that will affect the climate?

CT: “Certainly it will.It does already, there is a lot of volatility, there is a lot of speculation.It is going to be volatile until the outcome is going to be known.But it is something that the investors have to take into consideration.It is not necessarily a romanticism or confession to take into consideration, it is about facts.But the rewards can certainly of the potential size of this economy.So that is a challenge to take.”

RT: What do you think of Russia’s post crisis challenges?

CT:“There are many post crisis challenges for Russia, but I guess, one of the conclusions and the outcomes of the global economic crisis was that everyone went through is the interconnection of all the economies.You can’t really go on living in your own economy and own achievements and perspectives.You have to put other things, other countries, other geographies, other matters, into perspective.And I think here Russia is doing also the right thing in terms of this forum demonstrates the openness.It certainly does understand its relevance in the global geographical balance.It is important to belabor it and empower Russia to play the right role that it has to play.”