1. You attended last year's APEC CEO Summit in Honolulu. What were your impressions?
The quality of the attendance at the event, particularly from world leaders, was outstanding. I was fortunate to be on the opening panel session of the Summit with Lee Hsien Loong the Prime Minister of Singapore and I felt there was a constructive debate on the issues facing the APEC region and real engagement with the audience. The real strength of APEC last year was the opportunity to bring business and political leaders together and to talk about key issues facing the APEC region, I am confident we will have a similar opportunity in Russia this year.
2. What do you think are the biggest issues shaping the dialogue about free trade and economic prosperity in APEC?
There are a number of big issues on the agenda for the APEC region. These include the impact of the relatively weak economic recovery in the US, the Eurozone problems, and the slower growth that we are seeing in China. How will these developments affect prosperity and growth in the APEC region? Also I think the issues of talent shortages in certain markets and sectors, the uneven nature of regulation across the region and protectionism are things that business would like to see on the agenda for APEC.
3. Given the world's current climate of economic instability, do you believe that forums like APEC can be effective in addressing global issues and crises?
The world is facing a series of very complex and significant problems at the moment with no easy solutions. It is unrealistic to expect any one Summit or meeting to provide all the answers. However we also know that the problems that we face are global ones and that we will only make real progress through discussion and consensus. Any meeting that brings together business and political leaders at the highest levels to put the key issues of financial stability, regulation and protectionism on the table is a good thing. If last year's meeting is a guide, then I think that APEC can make a significant contribution to the debate.
4. Last year at the CEO Summit you met former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. What do you think Russia can contribute to the APEC dialogue?
I think it will be very interesting to see what role Russia will play in the debate at APEC this year. For many reasons I don't think that Russia (rather like the US) has been viewed as a Pacific nation. However like the US, Russia is very conscious of the shift of economic power to the Pacific nations and the need to develop strong links both economically and politically with the key Pacific powers. It will be interesting to see how Russia positions itself at the APEC meeting and how it sets out its future plans for developing closer links with its Pacific neighbours. As the only APEC country will one foot in Europe and the other in the Pacific region, Russia has a unique perspective on some of the trade issues that we face around the world -- particularly issues around the future of energy supply. It will be very interesting to listen to the Russian view on these key issues at the APEC meeting.
5. What is your favourite thing about Russia?
I have visited Russia many times and I have always been impressed by the energy and dynamism of both Russian business and the Russian people. PwC has been very closely involved in the development of the Skolkovo innovation centre and the progress that has been made there over the last few years has been very impressive. This is my first visit to the Pacific region of Russia and I'm looking forward to it.
You attended last year`s APEC CEO Summit in Honolulu. What are your impressions from that first visit
Last year PwC was, once again, the Knowledge Partner for the APEC Summit, and our Global Chairman Dennis Nally launched our CEO survey on the Asia Pacific. The Summit gathered a lot of businessmen and government officials from different countries who all contributed to a profound discussion of the most pressing issues that face China and the Asia Pacific region. This year, as the Summit takes place in Russia, I expect there will be a greater focus on Russia and economic integration in the region.
What are the key issues shaping the agenda in that area?
We view economic integration as a priority issue on the Summit’s agenda. This year there will be a panel discussion about it immediately after the Russian President's address. We know that APEC CEOs are planning to make significant investments in China, the United States, Russia, Singapore and elsewhere in region over the coming 3-5 years. The region is highly interconnected in terms of R&D, local talent pools, and the customer base. However, there are still a lot of obstacles along this road to integration, things APEC CEOs encounter on a regular basis, such as restrictions on cross-border investment, trade barriers, corruption etc. These and many other issues will be addressed at the Summit, to help make sure this deeper economic integration is on track.
You attended the Davos Forum and the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. What is APEC’s particular contribution to today’s global agenda?
The intensifying interconnectedness within APEC-Asia is shifting the centre of gravity from the Americas and Europe to APEC-Asia. And business leaders believe these intraregional ties are set not only to continue, but to deepen. Many CEOs are convinced the rise in spending power in Asia, particularly in China, offers their companies their single biggest opportunity for growth. It is predicted that by 2030 two-thirds of the world's middle class will reside in the Asia Pacific region. Taking all this into consideration, the 2012 APEC CEO Summit is sure to be a major event for all APEC member economies, and especially those whose main interest is in cooperation to promote economic modernisation. I anticipate that the 2012 APEC CEO Summit will create a unique platform for all participants to meet, network and to further collaborate in R&D, industrial, talent and other areas. I am sure that this year’s APEC CEO Summit in Vladivostok will be highly beneficial both in a broader, global, sense and for APEC participants.
How would you evaluate Russia`s role in the Asia-Pacific region?
Russia’s Far East boasts a wealth of resources that could potentially service much of the demand in Asia over the coming decades, but a great deal of work remains to be done before this potential is fully unlocked. What are the main issues and solutions for the further economic integration of East Siberia with the dynamic economies of Asia? These crucial questions have to be discussed at the upcoming Summit. Russia is already making good progress in terms of infrastructure development. PwC Russia is a Partner of the XXII Olympic Winter Games and XI Paralympic Winter Games that will be held in the city of Sochi in 2014, and these Games will be Russia’s chance to showcase itself to the world.
You have spent over 20 years in Russia, what strikes you most about this country and what was your most rewarding experience?
Many people outside Russia still employ outdated, inherited, stereotypes that mask the very real progress that has been made in this country over these years. All those who have either visited Russia regularly over the last two decades, or who – like me – have moved here, see how far-reaching these changes have been. I believe that the large domestic market, the high creativity of the Russian people and their natural taste for high quality and distinctive products is contributing to a revival in Russia's brand globally. Russia will certainly always mean something very special to me, because this is where I found so many exciting professional opportunities, it is where I met my (Russian) wife, and importantly – it is a country where I still have so much to discover, where there is so much more to explore…
David Gray, Country Managing Partner, PwC Russia since 1 July 2011.
Prior to this appointment, David was the leader of PwC's Energy, Utilities and Mining practice in Central and Eastern Europe. David has been working in Russia for more than 17 years and has helped build a market-leading practice.
During the session titled “Supply chains: ever more efficient, ever more vulnerable,” I will focus mainly on the specific steps that could be taken to make supply chains both more efficient and more reliable. During this discussion, I will also ask for participants’ views on the proper balance between optimising costs and ensuring that global supply chains are robust. How to find this balance is a very crucial question. Making commodities less costly and enhancing the reliability of their movement along the entire logistics chain, from producer to consumer, is a key factor in international trade. This involves a number of factors, including forming economically viable and secure commodity supply chains, coordinating various modes of transport, setting up transport hubs and corridors with state-of-the-art IT and satellite navigation systems, and harmonising transportation security standards. For sure, the session will also touch upon the overall benefits that the APEC region offers.
I will be pleased if we have and interesting discussion that is also right to the point and wraps up with a consensus on some concrete steps that should be taken concerning supply chains. I fully expect that participants will share their personal views with the audience as well as their experience in APEC and vision for the region’s future. All in all, I anticipate that the panelists will touch upon a range of global issues, including how the APEC region can benefit leading global players as well as a detailed look at the main challenges now facing supply chains.
The 2012 APEC CEO Summit is definitely major event for all APEC member economies, and especially those whose main interest is in cooperation to promote economic modernisation. First of all, this involves initiating an exchange of advanced know-how on how to go about shaping a favorable institutional environment that can foster innovative development and help create region-wide mechanisms for working together in science, technology and innovation. PwC was the Knowledge Partner of the 2011 APEC CEO Summit, which took place on 10-12November in Honolulu, Hawaii. And, once again, this year we will be publishing special APEC CEO Survey report. We’re confident that this unique publication will be of great interest for all participants. In general, we’re expecting the 2012 Summit to once again provide a unique forum for all participants to meet, network and lay the groundwork for further collaboration.