Gaidar Forum experts discuss competition policy priorities

The panel discussion, Competition Policy Priorities, took place on January 13, the second day of the Gaidar Forum 2017, Russia and the World: Setting Priorities. The experts discussed the positive and negative effects of competition.

The moderator, Chairman of the State Duma Budget and Tax Committee Andrei Makarov, proposed starting the discussion with a presentation by Esko Aho, Executive Chairman of the Board of the East Office of Finnish Industries; Senior Fellow at Harvard University; Consultative Partner at Nokia Corporation; and former Prime Minister of Finland (1991-1995)

The speaker talked about how competition has first led Nokia company to success, and then to decline.

Chairman of the Severstal Board Alexei Mordashov stressed that only competition generates growth drivers: “Without competition, we do not get economic growth or improvement of the quality of life, because only competition forces companies, manufacturers, economic actors to be effective, to improve quality and service. We have achieved a significant increase in the quality of life in our country over the past 20 years. It happened due to private business and competition, which involved not only private companies but public ones as well.”

First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov also stressed the importance of competition. As an example, he cited the utilities sector, where the government had not allowed competition before. In his opinion, this has led to the current situation where consumers are dissatisfied with the quality and price of services rendered by this sector. The speaker wondered whether Russia is ready to accept competition as a value, to accept it for the sake of prosperity and wealth of society. Is it ready to see the weakest leave the market?

“The boundary here is probably the fact that the market will provide an opportunity to organize their lives in a different area. If you lose your job, it does not mean that your life is over, that you will not be able to provide for your family or continue to grow, but maybe it's a new start for you. You can join another company or start your own business. For that, we are now organizing training courses and the necessary infrastructure to start a business in the framework of the Federal Corporation for Developing Small and Medium Business (SME Corporation),” Mr. Shuvalov said.