Klepach: it’s time to cut a window into China

13 january 2016 года
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Interview given by Vnesheconombank Deputy Chairman (Chief Economist) – Member of the Board Andrei Klepach to TV Channel Russia 24 in the course of the Gaidar Forum

HOST: We are again getting back to the venue of the Gaidar Forum. Now my female colleague Alexandra Suvorova is in direct communication with us with the latest details and exclusive commentaries. Sasha it’s your turn to speak now.

Alexandra Suvorova’s reporting

CORR: Sergei, hullo once more. Our guest Andrei Klepach is now with me in our studio. He is Vnesheconombank’s Deputy Chairman. Good afternoon Andrei.

Andrei KLEPACH, Vnesheconombank’s Deputy Chairman (Chief Economist) – Member of the Board: Good afternoon.

CORR: My first question is related to the agenda which is being actively discussed at the Forum. You took part in a session devoted to the latest developments in China. I’d like to remind you that that China saw the lowest GDP growth of 7 percent in 2015. What in your opinion should China do to restore its position in the world’s market and how should Russia interact with this country in the current situation? We can see that lately the emphasis has been on the Asia-Pacific region.

Andrei KLEPACH: In fact, China is going through a sort of economic adjustment or as they say economic rebalancing. Growth rates have slowed down. They expect economic growth this year to be about 6.8 or 6.9 percent. Experts expect economic growth to be even lower and I’d rather agree with their estimates. The reason for it is that China is forced to undertake such a serious structural restructuring. Their old model is not able to generate previous growth rates. And the main reason for it is a general slowdown in global trade growth. It shrank substantially in all countries and above all in OECD countries where main Chinese markets are. So, China’s exports shrank by more than 2 percent in 2015. And in 2016, significant economic growth is not likely to be possible. So, as Chinese people say themselves God forbid to live in a time of change. Now China is living in a time of change. But I don’t think that it will mean a hard landing of the Chinese economy this is not a slump and this is not a stagnation. China will maintain economic growth but the growth will be complicated and it is likely to be lower than they expect.

CORR: What sectorial markets in your opinion will be of interest for Russian players in China? And are there any chances for Russia to raise the capital that is now fleeing China?

Andrei KLEPACH: In fact, it’s very difficult for us to tap into Chinese markets because our presence there is rather insignificant. I think that besides the traditional market related to supplies of nuclear power equipment and construction of nuclear power stations there are important and potential niches in aviation industry including those related to joint projects on developing and manufacturing wide-body aircraft and to a potential project on launching the production of regional Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft. But these projects are very complex and they are being discussed so far. I think risks that they will be left on paper or in plans are great. We made a significant headway on foodstuffs because exports of Russian foodstuffs are starting to grow as their quality is better than Chinese ones. And many middle-income consumers start to prefer Russian food products. I think we can also cooperate in supplying our instruments to China. But Russian enterprises need to make a technological breakthrough to expand a range of products we are ready to supply to China. It’s very important for us not only to supply products to China but also to raise Chinese investments. Money has started to flee China but at the state’s level it has been purchasing assets abroad for a long time and above all raw materials. It’s important that private Chinese investors have started to invest in Russian projects for example in the Bystrinsky Mining and Processing Plant of Nornickel. We are now discussing issues of securing Chinese credits to fund projects related to Yamal LNG and the construction of the Moscow-Kazan High-Speed Motorway. So, we have a potential for raising Chinese investments. But China is a difficult partner and we need much time to put plans under discussion now into effect. Nevertheless, I believe that there is a large window of opportunity and it might be a matter of billions of dollars and not only in the raw materials sector but also in infrastructure projects. In the past China extended credits to Rosneft too.

CORR: As to China, many experts share the opinion that we can see China’s influence on trading floors all over the world. What factors in your opinion influenced oil price quotations and is there a speculative component in it?

Andrei KLEPACH: This issue is being discussed actively every day almost every hour. But a key role here is being played by Saudi Arabia which is struggling to restore its position on the oil market. It competes with shale oil producers from the United States and other countries. And in this case we act as an active competitor too. I think that this process will continue. In my opinion, speculative components are not playing a major role here as was the case in the past when there was a financial bubble caused by investments made by various funds in oil financial instruments. This resulted then in bringing oil prices to more than a hundred dollars per barrel. This is not the case now. But I think that the situation in the oil sector will have to change for restoring oil price quotations because Saudi Arabia’s margin of safety is not limitless. According to various estimates Saudi Arabia’s financial system will withstand for 1.5-2 years because the country’s budget deficit is about 20 percent. On the other hand, oil production is bound to fall both in the United States and in a whole number of OPEC countries as well as independent countries. So, the world could face a high volatility of oil prices. But in general, we have entered a period when an average level of oil prices will be a lot lower than in the last years. And I believe that estimates from 50 to 70 dollars per barrel are realistic and probable in the mid-term.

CORR: Let’ get back to the Russian agenda. Do you think that the Central Bank is likely to reduce the key interest rate?

Andrei KLEPACH: As the ruble is weakening because of the fall in oil prices the key interest rate is unlikely to go down. There are risks that it will go up to keep the ruble from falling further. If oil prices go up in the second half of the year, inflow of foreign currency will increase and the ruble is likely to strengthen and the key interest rate is likely to go down. Due to limited consumer demand and limited consumer incomes inflation will slow down, especially in the second half of the year.

CORR: You predict that inflation won’t reach double digits.

Andrei KLEPACH: I think that we won’t have double-digit inflation.

CORR: And now my last question. Do you believe that a devaluation of the ruble is possible or not?

Andrei KLEPACH: We can already see the ruble devaluation at the beginning of the year.

CORR: Is the ruble going to fall further?

Andrei KLEPACH: No, it is not if oil prices do not collapse and I don’t think that oil prices will fall further. In the first half of the year oil prices are likely to be about 30 dollars per barrel. I do not rule the possibility that oil prices will go up and strengthen the ruble. The more so, capital outflow has diminished.

CORR: I’m sorry but our time is running out. Thank you very much for finding the time for this interview here at the Gaidar Forum.

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Vnesheconombank’s Chairman Briefing for the Mass Media

17 december 2015 года
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VEB’S CHAIRMAN TO DISCUSS THE POSSIBILITY OF PLACING BONDS IN YUANS WITH CHINA’S FINANCE MINISTRY

BEIJING, December 16 /PRIME/. Vnesheconombank is exploring the possibility of placing bonds in yuans and it is to discuss this issue on Thursday with China’s Finance Ministry, VEB’s Chairman told journalists.

“In fact, we are exploring this issue… Not all is clear yet in terms of domestic legislation and restrictions. We are removing them gradually. Nevertheless, we have to discuss this issue with the Chinese regulator. We are holding a meeting with the Chinese Finance Ministry tomorrow”, he said.

By the way, the state corporation counts on the support of such Chinese partners as the China Development Bank and other financial institutions. “We believe this issue holds promise and the more so, our Finance Ministry said that it might be possible to borrow in yuans and at the Russia stock exchange. So, we are moving this issue forward, we are interested in borrowing in yuans… the yuan has become one of reserve currencies”, said Dmitriev.

“We also raise credit facilities in yuans on our own. So, we believe that it’s worthwhile placing our debt instruments in yuans but so far not all restrictions have been removed in terms of our domestic legislation”, added VEB’s Chairman.

As early as in June, Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Moiseev said that the Ministry was discussing with VEB the possibility of issuing bonds in yuans. The Finance Ministry itself announced its intention to place bonds worth 6 billion yuans at the Moscow Exchange, with the bonds being intended for China’s investors.

Mr. Dmitriev said that he would view VEB’s potential entry into China’s debt market in 2016 with cautious optimism. “We know how fast our partners are moving in making such principal decisions, progress is being made and restrictions are being removed. Nevertheless, I can’t see any possibility at least in the first half of 2016 of entering capital market in yuans”, said Vnesheconombank’s Chairman.


INCLUSION OF THE YUAN IN THE BASKET OF RESERVE CURRENCIES IS BENEFICIAL FOR RUSSIA – VEB CHAIRMAN DMITRIEV

BEIJING, December 16. /TASS Corr. Oleg Trutnev/. The recognition of the yuan as a reserve currency is a favorable event for Russia, VEB Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev told journalists today.

“As a whole, the yuan’s strengthened role as a reserve currency is a positive development”, he said. Russian banks were directly affected by sanctions imposed by Western countries, so without being able to borrow in Western currencies we are naturally turning to Chinese creditors. We borrowed from China in the past too and now we are increasingly turning to the yuan.

Dmitriev noted that after sanctions had been imposed there were some difficulties in Russian-Chinese bank payments. “But we are glad to say that despite sanctions our Chinese partner banks continue to extend credits to us especially when we deal with supplies of Chinese equipment together with raising Chinese investments. This also gives us serious advantages and they feel positive about our moving to borrowings in yuans”, said VEB’s Chairman.

On November 30, the IMF Board of Directors included the yuan in its basket of reserve currencies (Special Drawing Rights – SDR). The decision is to become effective on October 1, 2016.


VEB VIEWS ITS POTENTIAL ENTRY INTO CHINA’S DEBT MARKET IN 2016 WITH CAUTIOUS OPTIMISM

BEIJING, December 16. /TASS Corr. Oleg Trutnev/. VEB views its potential entry into China’s debt market next year with caution optimism. Vnesheconombank Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev told journalists about it today.

“I would view such a prospect with cautious optimism. We can see that progress is being made and restrictions are being removed. Nevertheless, I can’t see any possibility at least in the first half of 2016 of entering capital market in yuans”, he said.

Vnesheconombank’s Chairman said that the work continues along this line of activity. “We are to hold a meeting with the Finance Ministry tomorrow to discuss this issue. I hope our Chinese partners and above all the China Development Bank and the Eximbank Bank of China would support us”, said Dmitriev.

“We believe that this issue holds promise, the more so our Finance Ministry said that it might be possible to borrow in yuans at the Russian stock exchange”, VEB’s Chairman stressed.

According to him, the Chinese currency is of interest for us because it became one of reserve currencies and because of the increased trade turnover between Russia and China.


RUSSIAN-CHINESE TRADE AND FINANCE PLATFORM IN CHINA TO START OPERATING IN 2016 - VEB’S CHAIRMAN

BEIJING, December 16. /TASS Corr. Oleg Trutnev/. A Russia-Chinese Trade and Finance Platform to promote Russian exports to Asian markets is to start operating next year. Vnesheconombank Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev told journalists about it today.

“I believe that we would launch this project in the first half of the next year”, he answered a question about the dates of launching the Platform. “Now we are now working on codifying this process”, VEB’s Chairman said.

According to Dmitriev, the project’s road map will be developed in the near future. “We’ll choose about ten pilot Russia exporters on the basis of which we’ll work out logistics mechanisms for supplying Russian products to China for their further distribution”, he said.

Vnesheconombank, JSC the Russian Export Center, the leadership of China’s province of Guangdong and Sinotrans & CSC Group entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on creating a trade and finance platform in the course of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s formal visit to the People’s Republic of China in September.

Under the Memorandum, it is planned to set up a trade and finance platform in South-East China in the city of Shilong of Guangdong Province in order to enhance trade relations between the countries and promote Russian exports to Asian countries.

Guangdong Province is PRC’s strategically important center with a high concentration of trade and industrial parks as well as a territorial anchor of a long-term macroeconomic Chinese Program “One Belt. One Road”. The program provides for creating a Trans-Eurasian industrial belt running throughout the length of the Great Silk Road from China to East Europe.


LOGISTICS HUB IN CHINA MIGHT BE LAUNCHED IN THE 1ST HALF OF 2016 WITH VEB’S PARTICIPATION

BEIJING, December 16 – RIA Novosti/Prime, Zhanna Manukyan. A road map on creating a trade and finance platform in the South -East of China for supplying Russian products to Asian-Pacific region countries is to be formed in the near future, he project could start operating in the first half of 2016, VEB Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev told journalists.

Earlier VEB, the leadership of Chinese People’s Guangdong Province and Sinotrans& CSC Group entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on Creating Trade and Finance Platform in this province in the South-East of China. Guangdong Province is PRC’s strategically important center with a high concentration of trade and industrial parks as well as a territorial anchor of the Silk Road Economic Belt Project.

Dmitriev noted that the project provides for creating a logistics cluster. Products of Russian exporters are to be supplied there for processing. VEB’s subsidiary VEB Asia is to participate in the project.

Opening a direct railway service between Guangdong and Russia’s border through Inner Mongolia would help to promote Russian products to the regions of South and central China and South-East Asian countries.

“This railway route would help to enhance trade and economic ties and we hope that through the support of the Russian Export Center we’ll be able to expand the range of products that are supplies to China and other South-East Asian countries”, said Dmitriev.

He said that he held talks with the Governor of Guangdong province and Sinotrans company’s management.

“We agreed to form a road map in the near future. “We’ll choose about ten pilot Russia exporters on the basis of which we’ll work out logistics mechanisms for supplying Russian products to China for their further distribution to Chinese regions and South-East Asian countries”, said Dmitriev.


UDOKAN PROJECT MIGHT BE FUNDED IN YUANS THROUGH USING THE CHINA DEVELOPMENT BANK’S CREDIT VEB’S CHAIRMAN

BEIJING, December 16 /PRME/. The Udokan copper deposit development project might be funded in yuans through using the China Development Bank’s credit, Vnesheconombank Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev told journalists about it.

“The second large project we are focusing on is the Udokan deposit – one of the world’s largest copper deposits. A decision to fund the project was made by our Supervisory Board. And we hope that it would be funded in yuans by way of using the China Development Bank’s credit”, said Dmiriev.

The Udokan deposit in the Trans-Baikal region is one of the world’s largest deposits by copper reserves. An industrial integrated facility to be build there is designed to process 36 million tons of ore per year. According to the JORC Code the Udokan’s mineral resources are estimated at 2.3 billion tons, with an average copper content of 1.06% and the amount of copper - 2.6 million tons. The Baikal Mining Company acts as the project’s operator (BMC is an entity of Metalloinvest company).


THE NEW BRICS DEVELOPMENT BANK (NDB BRICS) TO START OPERATING ON THE BASIS OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT BANKS’ PROJECTS

BEIJING, December 16. /Corr. TASS Oleg Trutnev/. Operation of the New BRICS Development Bank (NDB BRICS) will be based at the first stage on national development banks’ projects. VEB’s ChairmanVladimir Dmitriev told journalists about it today.

“We have already agreed with the Head of the New Development Bank to base the Bank’s operation at an initial stage on the projects under consideration by national development banks in order to launch the Bank as soon as possible”, he said.

“We, as heads of SCO countries’ development banks, find it necessary to develop close cooperation with new emerging financing institutions in the region such as the New Development Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the Silk Road Fund”, said Dmitriev.

An agreement on establishing a new BRICS Development Bank (Brazil, Russia, India, China and the Republic of South Africa) was signed at the BRICS summit in Brazil in June of 2014. The Bank is designed to fund infrastructure projects and sustainable development projects in BRICS states and developing countries. NDB’S authorized capital is 100 billion dollars. The Bank is headquartered in Shanghai.


VEB DOESN’T FIND IT NECESSARY TO RECEIVE THE DAGONG RATING OF CHINA

BEIJING, December 16 – RIA Novosti. Vnesheconombank is not planning so far to receive the Dagong rating of China but does not rule this possibility in the future, VEB Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev told journalists about it.

Earlier, Russia’s Gazprom, Gazprombank, Gazpromneft, Metalloinvest received ratings from Dagong, VTB also stated its intention to receive rating from Dagong.

“We are not working with them so far. As our rating is in line with a sovereign one, we don’t find it necessary. But it is obvious this rating could help us to expand our presence at a local level including on the stock market upon placing bonds. I do not rule out that we will attach more importance to this issue in the future “, Dmitriev said.


RUSSIAN-CHINESE RELATIONS

Channel 1, Vremya, Moscow, December 17, 2015 21:21

Relations between Russia and China have reached a special level and started to bear fruit for the economies and people of the two countries. This is the way Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev sized up relations between the two countries after his visit to China. Only today we have signed 33 documents including those dealing with joint projects in agriculture and power engineering. Work is going on the construction of a gas pipeline along east and west routes. Dmitry Medvedev also mentioned new projects related to new kinds of energy resources and to tapping new markets. Our special correspondent followed all the events in the Celestial Empire.

Corr: Dmitry Medvedev completed his 4-day visit to China in Beijing. In the course of his visit he met his counterpart – Premier of State Council of the People’s Republic of China two times. The composition of the Russian delegation at the second meeting was impressive – almost all members of the Cabinet of Ministers and representatives of the largest businesses of the country and each has his own multi-billion projects with China.

VLADIMIR DMITRIEV (VNESHECONOMBANK’S CHAIRMAN): We are to sign an agreement with the China Development Bank. It provides for extending a credit worth 10 billion yuans at a preferential interest rate and on favorable terms: the credit tenure is 5 years. And we intend to use these funds to fund relevant projects most of which are included in the list of Chinese-Russian investment cooperation.

Corr: Such meetings of Russian and Chinese Heads of Government are held once a year and this is the 20th jubilee meeting. And it is quite productive. Its participants signed more than 30 documents on cooperation in the economic sector.


THE CHINA DEVELOPMENT BANK TO EXTEND CREDIT WORTH 10 BILLION YUANS FOR A PERIOD OF 5 YEARS TO VEB

BEIJING, December 17 (Reuter) – The China Development Bank is to extend a credit worth 10 billion yuans for a period of up to five years, VEB Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev told journalists about it.

“We held talks with our partners and are to sign an agreement with the China Development Bank. The agreement provides for extending 10 billion yuans to VEB at a preferential interest rate”, Dmitriev said.

According to him the credit tenure is 5 years and the funds are to be used to implement joint projects.

Last year, VEB was hit by Western sanctions for Moscow’s role in the Ukrainian crisis and now it is unable to refinance its foreign exchange debts on foreign markets. The state corporation’s balance is burdened with a lot of non-performing assets related among other things to the Olympic construction projects.

The authorities are arguing about how to help VEB, which needs to be additionally capitalized with $20 billion for a period of several years.


RDIF, VEB AND THE CHINA-EURASIAN ECONOMIC COOPERATION FUND TO SET UP INSTITUTION TO FUND EXPORTS FROM CHINA TO RUSSIA

Beijing. December 17. INTERFAX-AFI – The Russian Direct Investment Fund, Vnesheconombank (MOEX: VEBM) and the China-Eurasian Economic Cooperation Fund signed an agreement on cooperation in making investments in the economic top-priority sectors of Russia and China, Vnesheconombank Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev told journalists about it.

Specifically, the parties agreed to set up an institution to fund exports from China to Russia.

“We have completed talks on setting up a structure that will be responsible for funding Chinese exports to Russia and inflow of Chinese investments in relevant projects to be primarily deployes on the territory of the Far East and Trans-Baikal”, said V.Dmitriev.


THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT VEB WILL BE PROVIDED WITH SUPPOPRT FROM THE STATE, ONLY A FORM OF SUPPORT IS UNDER DISCUSSION-VEB’S CHAIRMAN

BEIJING, December 17. /TASS/. There is no doubt that Vnesheconombank will be provided with the state’s support, only a form of support is under discussion, VEB Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev told journalist about it.

“This issue is still under discussion. There is no doubt that Vnesheconombank will be provided with the state’s support, only a form of support is under discussion. Vnesheconombank is bound to fulfil all its obligations relying on the state’s support”, he said.

However, Dmitriev refused to say which support mechanism is optimal for VEB.


VEB IS IN TALKS WITH THE CENTRAL BANK ON HOW TO REMOVE FROM ITS BALANCE SHEET THE DEBT USED TO REHABILITATE SVYAZ-BANK AND GLOBEX

BEIJING, December 17. INTERFAX- VEB (MOEX:VEBM) is in talks with the Central Bank of Russia on how to remove from its balance sheet the debt used to rehabilitate Svyaz-Bank (MOEX:SVZB) and Bank Globex (MOEX: GLBX).

“In fact, we are in talks with the Central Bank on the fate of these deposits and we feel necessary support on the part of the Central Bank to remove the debt from VEB’s balance sheet”, Vnesheconombank Chairman Vladimir Dmitriev told journalists about it in Beijing.

VEB was entrusted with rehabilitating Globex and Svyaz-Bank during the 2008-2009 crisis. To fund the rehabilitation, the Central Bank placed deposits with VEB which were re-registered IN 2014 as 7-year bonds at a rate of 2% per annum.

Vedomosti wrote in November with reference to the sources that Svyaz-Bank and Globex could be transferred from VEB to the Deposit Insurance Agency.

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