Russian economy grew 3.5% in 2012: Medvedev

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Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said on Wednesday his country’s economy grew by 3.5 percent in 2012 but that Moscow was aiming for annual output growth of more like five percent.

“If you look at the general macro-economic situation in Russia, it’s rather stable, last year economic growth amounted to 3.5 percent, inflation was at 6.6 percent,” Medvedev told the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Urging foreign firms to invest in Russia, Medvedev said that Moscow had set ambitious goals for attracting international capital.

“To achieve at least five percent per annum we need to see investment growing for at least a few years in a row by 10 percent annually,” he said.

“We have very ambitious goals in the investment field, to increase the volume of investment from 20 to 25 percent of GDP, to increase investment in transportation, in energy infrastructure... and foreign direct investment would be instrumental in achieving this goal.”

Medvedev, whose country is leading the G20 this year, also acknowledged that Russia had an image problem, with many taking part in the forum raising concerns about corruption and the country's over-dependence on energy exports.

Responding to a vote among participants at his talk naming governance issues as their top concern, Medvedev said: “At the moment, that reflects the current image that exists in the world of Russia and its problems. I'm not saying the image is correct.”

He said Russia, the world’s top oil producer, did not want see oil and gas prices rise.

“We’re not interested in excessively high energy prices because they hinder the development of the global economy and the Russian economy,” Medvedev said.

“I believe the current oil prices are more or less optimal both for consumers and producers,” he said. “Our economy is indeed greatly dependent on commodity exports, but it is overstated.”

He insisted Russia was making progress on tackling governance issues and would continue to make efforts.

“The top priority of the Russian government, my top priority as prime minister, would be increasing efficiency of all public bodies,” he said.

“It would be wrong to say we are standing still. I believe we have already achieved much of what we planned,” he said, pointing to the stabilization of Russia's population decline and its joining of the World Trade Organization.

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