Putin calls for Russian businesses to fill the sanctions gap

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Putin calls for Russian businesses to fill the sanctions gap

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, hosting a business forum in Moscow, has told domestic industries they should expand before western sanctions are lifted and they have to compete against foreign imports again.

He also denied Russia’s central bank was making policy dictated by the Kremlin, insisting it was independent.

“The current situation is not very simple, not to say difficult. The change in the rouble’s exchange rate improves the cost competitiveness of Russian products and opens the door to possibilities of taking control of new niches in both national and international markets. But we should keep in mind, this is time limited. That’s why we must take advantage as soon as possible to increase non-energy exports and to develop our own market,” he said.

The prices of imported goods have soared as the rouble has weakened and sanctions and counter-sanctions have hurt trade. Russia also imports most of its food, so its ban on western foodstuffs has hit households hard.

The World Bank forecasts that the Russian economy will contract by 3.8% this year.