Putin urges expansion of Russian financial markets, cutting use of Western currencies

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President Vladimir Putin said on Friday Russia needed to cut imports, significantly boost the use of non-Western currencies in trade settlement and called for a major expansion of the country’s domestic financial markets.

Putin, speaking at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, said trade with Asia was soaring and that nearly 40 percent of Russian external trade was now in rubles as the share conducted in US dollars, euros and other Western currencies declined.

Putin said Russia would seek to boost the share of settlements conducted in the currencies of BRICS countries - the group of economies which includes Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

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“Last year, the share of payments for Russian exports in the so–called ‘toxic’ currencies of unfriendly states halved, while the share of the ruble in export and import transactions is growing - it is approaching 40 percent today,” Putin said.

“We will increase the use of national currencies in foreign trade settlements, improve the security and efficiency of such operations, including through BRICS.”

Russia regularly refers to the mostly Western nations that have imposed sanctions on it over the war in Ukraine as “unfriendly countries.”

Russia needs to reduce imports by creating competitive production and by boosting investment in fixed assets by 60 percent by 2030, Putin said.

He added that the value of the Russian stock market should double by the end of the decade and amount to two thirds of Russian GDP.

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