Anne Pringle, a new British ambassador to Russia, presented her credentials to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on January 16, thus officially taking the office. Ms. Pringle has been in Russia since October 2008. She talked about preparations for an upcoming G20 financial summit in London.
It is common knowledge that currently we have a world financial crisis. How do you assess the preparation for the G20 summit scheduled for early April?
Let me say first of all, the London summit is on 2 April and we are beginning to prepare the ground for it. The key themes will be focusing how we stimulate growth again in the world economy and how we create jobs. We’ll be following up the Washington summit in November in trying to improve regulations of financial market and better performance and regulation of international financial institutions, generally.
The other big themes are going to be how we pay attention to the needs of emerging economies and how we ensure that countries do not fall back into protectionism.
And the final theme called “greening the growth” by which we mean we have an opportunity out of the crisis to live again at low carbon growth, as we call it. In other words, let me give you an example. In Russia energy efficiency is very important. You lose a lot here because of energy inefficiency, something your leaders have spoken about a lot, and if you were more efficient in not flaring gas and in producing GDP more efficiently in energy terms, you would save yourselves a lot of money. So when we say a key theme is “greening the growth”, we mean are looking at smart growth and more sort of low-carbon growth for the world economy. Greening the growth we call it. So looking to safe cars sometime to connect to Russia, but you’ve got 3.5 million cars here on your streets in Moscow, you know, if they could be more energy efficient it saves yourselves a lot in atmospherics and you know costs, everything.
The person, who’ll invent good technology that helps to make cars cleaner, really clean, and still efficient and fast, will be the next sort of Google millionaire, we’ll see.
Will it be possible, in your view, to reach any agreements, to sign any documents on the results of the summit?
I hope so, four working groups have been set up to produce tangible outcomes for the summit. They are headed by a mix of developed and emerging economies to get a range of views. They are looking at the areas I’ve described as themes. And certainly Gordon Brown will be pushing very hard for specific deliverables at the summit. It’s a bit early to say what will be because we are only in February and it’s not until April 2, but these groups are working very hard now on outcomes and we are working closely with the Russian government on making sure their views are reflected.
Do you expect a bilateral meeting between the Russian and British leaders in London?
They’ll certainly meet and the agenda for the summit is obviously going to be tight because although G20 is the core, other people will be there, so it will be a very busy day. I hope there will be a bilateral but I can only hope and press, there are only 24 hours in a day. So we’ll see.
Can the crisis lead to a lower level of British investment in the Russian economy?
I hope not. We are one of, if not the largest, investors in the Russian economy, it depends which year you look at. None of our companies are here for the short term, they are all investing in the long-term potential of Russia, and I do think that the long-term potential of Russia remains huge. And the opportunities for investors here are huge.