【英语财经】普京在拿俄罗斯经济冒险 Putin is risking the engine of Russia’s economy

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2014-5-26 06:43

小艾摘要: Despite Russia’s recent under-performance, the size and potential of its economy has made it an attractive prospect for global companies. From German manufacturers to French and Italian luxury brands ...
Putin is risking the engine of Russia’s economy
Despite Russia’s recent under-performance, the size and potential of its economy has made it an attractive prospect for global companies. From German manufacturers to French and Italian luxury brands and British retailers, businesses have been drawn there to trade and invest. For them Russia has been too big to miss.

But today a different view is taking hold: that unless President Vladimir Putin’s attention shifts urgently from political entanglement in his neighbourhood to prioritising his nation’s economic needs, Russia’s disappointing economic performance will become an established trend.

Future investment will depend on perceptions of political risk as well as expected economic returns – and Mr Putin’s apparent readiness to see Russia isolated in an interdependent world has increased this risk.

No one realises this more than Russian businesses – ultimately the vehicles that will diversify and strengthen the economy – which are thinking hard about where their president’s actions are taking them. This will be the main topic of conversation at this week’s St Petersburg International Economic Forum, which I will be attending.

The question uppermost in their minds is whether Mr Putin, so far the master of tactics in Ukraine, has the sense to realise when enough is enough.

In Romania and Poland last week, I met plenty of seasoned Russia watchers. There is a widespread belief that Russia will not occupy Ukrainian territory beyond Crimea – given the physical resistance and costs involved – but wants to create a weak, non-aligned buffer against Europe that falls within its sphere of influence. There is further suspicion that Russia wants to stop Moldova, a former Soviet republic, signing an association agreement with the EU.

Should Moscow pursue these aims, using destabilisation and pressure on the local population and politicians, there will be limits to what Europe or the US can do. The west will neither launch a full military intervention nor, given Europe’s energy dependence on Russia, introduce an Iran-style blockade.

But this does not mean the west will simply stand aside. Nato’s collective security guarantees will be reaffirmed. The illegal annexation of Crimea will never be recognised; the state of limbo will become a growing financial burden for Russia. The authorities in Kiev will be buttressed by Europe, receiving economic assistance and help to reform the energy market. Should Moscow be judged to have undermined Ukraine’s presidential elections starting this Sunday, sanctions will be intensified. Separately there will be pushback against the dominant market position in Europe of Gazprom, Russia’s state-controlled gas company.

Russian businesses have every reason to fear the consequences of such a response, which will be more united than the country’s politicians assume. The effect, while not immediate, will be a discernible impact on the ability to attract capital, service debts and access the international financial system.

But taking such action should not mean cutting ourselves off from any contact with Russia. On the contrary, every effort should be made to engage in hard-headed dialogue that brings home to anyone with an independent mind, an economic interest and a voice in the country that there is an alternative to confrontation; that in Europe we would prefer to share our continent with Russia, sustaining rules that have delivered the longest period of peace to date and building stronger economic and trading ties.

In more positive times, as EU trade commissioner, I worked with my Russian counterpart to forge a vision and blueprint for a comprehensive trade and investment agreement between the EU and Russia. Both sides embraced this path but it was predicated on Russia’s entry to the World Trade Organisation. This was a painstaking process during which Mr Putin developed an alternative vision – a customs union formed from former Soviet republics, including Ukraine, which would achieve parity with the EU rather than a close partnership.

This Eurasian economic union will not now be created as Mr Putin conceived it – the regional fallout from Crimea’s annexation has seen to that. The question is whether, as this reality becomes evident, Mr Putin can be drawn back into embracing the sort of collaborative economic relations with Europe envisaged in our original blueprint.

Much depends on what happens in coming weeks and months. Europe must be ready to respond vigorously to further destabilisation in Ukraine and elsewhere if this is what Mr Putin chooses, if only for the sake of our own self-respect. But equally, we should not close our minds to a different sort of relationship with Russia should the possibility emerge. This may seem a distant possibility but it is not beyond imagination, especially when the mounting economic cost of Russia’s actions, and the economic sacrifice of its people, force Mr Putin to reflect on the precarious path he is following.

The writer is a former UK business secretary and EU trade commissioner

尽管近年来俄罗斯经济表现欠佳,但规模和潜力使其对全球企业具有吸引力。从德国制造商到法国、意大利奢侈品牌,再到英国零售商,各国企业都被吸引到俄罗斯展开投资和贸易活动。对它们而言,俄罗斯太大而不能忽视。

但现在,一个不同的观点开始占上风:除非俄罗斯总统弗拉基米尔?普京(Vladimir Putin)赶紧把注意力从插手周边国家政治事务,转向优先考虑本国经济需要,否则俄罗斯令人失望的经济表现将成为一种固定趋势。

未来投资将取决于预期经济回报和人们对政治风险的看法。普京似乎愿意让俄罗斯在这个相互依存的世界上陷于孤立,这一点加大了政治风险。

俄罗斯企业(最终而言,它们才是推动俄罗斯经济多元化、使其更为强大的主体)对这一点的认识最为深刻。他们正在思考,总统的行动正把他们带往何方?这将是本周圣彼得堡国际经济论坛(St Petersburg International Economic Forum)的对话主题。我将出席此次会议。

他们脑海里的头号问题是,迄今一直是乌克兰行动幕后主谋的普京,懂不懂适可而止的道理?

上周,我在罗马尼亚和波兰见到了很多经验丰富的俄罗斯观察人士。他们普遍认为,鉴于会遇到的顽强抵抗和付出的代价,俄罗斯不会占领克里米亚之外的乌克兰领土,但想在本国势力范围内建立一个针对欧洲的弱小且不结盟的缓冲带。他们进一步怀疑,俄罗斯想阻止前苏联加盟共和国摩尔多瓦与欧盟(EU)缔结联系国协定。

倘若俄罗斯追求这些目标,破坏局势稳定,并向当地人和政界人士施加压力,欧洲和美国的回应将是有限的。西方既不会发动全面军事干预,而且鉴于欧洲对俄罗斯的能源依赖,也不会像封锁伊朗那样封锁俄罗斯。

但这并不意味着西方将只能袖手旁观。西方将重申北约(Nato)的集体安全保障。俄罗斯对克里米亚的非法吞并将永远得不到承认;不确定状态将成为俄罗斯越来越沉重的财务负担。基辅当局将得到欧洲的支撑,得到经济援助和帮助,以改革能源市场。倘若俄罗斯被视为破坏本周日开始的乌克兰总统选举,就将遭到更严厉的制裁。另外,俄罗斯国有控股的俄罗斯天然气工业公司(Gazprom)在欧洲市场的主导性地位将受到削弱。

俄罗斯企业有充分理由害怕西方这种回应的后果,这种回应将比俄罗斯政界所认为的更加团结。其效果尽管不会立即显现,但将表现为俄罗斯企业吸引资本、偿还债务以及利用国际金融体系的能力受到实实在在的冲击。

不过,采取此类行动不应意味着我们要切断与俄罗斯的一切联系。相反,我们应尽力冷静地与其对话,让所有独立思考、在俄罗斯有经济利益和发言权的人意识到,对抗之外还有另一种选项;在欧洲,我们更愿意与俄罗斯共享整个大陆,维系那些迄今带来最长久和平、并构建起更强大经贸联系的规则。

回顾前些年那段比较积极的时期,我作为欧盟贸易专员,曾与俄罗斯同行合作,为欧盟与俄罗斯达成一项全面贸易与投资协定绘制愿景与蓝图。双方都支持这一路径,但它取决于俄罗斯加入世贸组织(WTO)。那是一个艰苦的过程,其间普京发展出了一个替代愿景——组建一个由前苏联加盟共和国(包括乌克兰)参与的关税同盟,此举将实现与欧盟同等的地位,而不是与其构建一种密切的合作伙伴关系。

目前,这一欧亚经济联盟将无法按普京构思的那样建立——这是俄罗斯吞并克里米亚所引发的地区冲击波的后果。问题在于,随着这一现实变得显而易见,普京能否被拉回来,重新支持我们在最初蓝图中设想的那种经济协作关系?

结局在很大程度上要取决于未来几周、几个月的事态变化。如果普京选择进一步破坏乌克兰及其他地区的稳定,欧洲必须准备好做出有力回应——即便这只是为了我们的自尊。但同样,我们不应彻底排斥与俄罗斯建立一种不同关系的可能性——如果这种可能性出现的话。这一可能性或许看似很遥远,但并非无法想象——尤其是当俄罗斯行为的经济成本和俄罗斯民众的经济牺牲不断累积,迫使普京对其正在走的危险道路进行反思的时候。

本文作者曾任英国商务大臣、欧盟贸易专员

译者/邢嵬

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