The total price of official agreements signed during the 23rd St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), which was held under the slogan “Creating a Sustainable Development Agenda” on June 6–8, amounted to more than 3.1 trillion rubles (47.81 bln. dollars), which is significantly higher than in previous years, Advisor to the Russian President and Executive Secretary of the SPIEF Organizing Committee Anton Kobyakov said at the final press conference.
According to him, SPIEF-2019 brought together a record-breaking number of participants: over 19,000 people from 145 countries. The Forum was attended by over 3,500 Russian and foreign companies, over 570 foreign and over 1,800 Russian companies were represented on the executive level.
“Neither American nor European countries want to leave the Russian market and are highly unlikely to do so in the future. Trade wars that Washington wages combined with protectionist measures will only slow down the global economic growth. Against this background, I believe the European Union countries are starting to comprehend the mutual benefit of good neighbourly relations with Russia,” said Anton Kobyakov.
Speaking at the plenary session of the Forum, Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed that the current system of international economic relations is outdated and “is increasingly at odds with the rapidly emerging new economic reality.”
“Obviously, new agreements will be needed for drafting a more stable and fair development model. These agreements should not only be written clearly but should also be observed by all participants. […] What should be the subject of discussion in terms of regulating such agreements and such a common legal environment? Certainly not the imposition of a single and the only correct canon for all countries, but above all, the harmonisation of national economic interests, principles of teamwork, competition and cooperation between countries with their own individual development models, peculiarities and interests. The drafting of such principles should be carried out with maximum openness and in the most democratic manner,” the Russian leader said.
“It is on this foundation that the system of world trade should be adapted to current realities and the efficiency of the World Trade Organisation enhanced. Other international institutions should be filled with new meaning and content rather than broken. It is necessary to sincerely consider, rather than just talk about the requirements and interests of the developing nations, including those that are upgrading their industry, agriculture and social services. This is what equal conditions for development is all about,” Vladimir Putin added.
Commenting on the outcomes of SPIEF, Anton Friesen, Member of the foreign affairs committee and the committee on humanitarian assistance and human rights of the German Parliament, AfD MP, paid special attention to the list of participants of the event.
“The biggest delegation came from China, the second biggest from the US. This shows, that even the Americans, who propose hard sanctions on Russia over Nord Stream II, are eager to do business with Russia,” Anton Friesen told PenzaNews.
He also stressed that some German MPs, for example, of Saxonia, voiced opposition to the sanctions against Moscow.
“The German-Russian trade recovers slowly from the impact of Russian recession and sanctions. Last year, the trade volume has hit 60 milliards euro,” he explained.
“One of the main results from the German perspective is the signing of a new German-Russian modernisation agreement [declaration of intentions on a partnership for effectiveness], which is the continuation of a successful modernisation dialogue led by Germany and Russia between 2000 and 2008,” the German MP said.
In turn, Neil MacKinnon, Global Macro Strategist at VTB Capital, shared the view on the high popularity of the SPIEF as the Forum has reached a new level in its significance.
“The SPIEF is an important internationally-recognized forum for in-depth discussion of major economic and financial issues,” Neil MacKinnon commented briefly.
Meanwhile, Oleg Prozorov, Director General, the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in the Russian Federation, said that an unprecedented number of members and experts of the BLCC Russia participated in SPIEF-2019.
“This year the Forum was visited by the vice-premiers of both states [Belgium and Luxembourg] who held meetings with their Russian colleagues. Our Chamber is an official regional partner of the Roscongress Foundation, which is the organizer of the Forum. This year SPIEF once again took the first place among business events of the Eurasian continent,” Oleg Prozorov said.
According to him, the most significant were the topics of trade and economic cooperation as well as interaction in the fields of energy, transport, and diamond processing.
“Cooperation in space, innovations, digital industry and corporate sphere is also promising. The Benelux countries are among the ten largest foreign trade partners of the Russian Federation, and Russia, in turn, continues to be the most important destination of direct investment. Companies from Belgium and Luxembourg are committed to mutually beneficial future-oriented cooperation,” Director General, BLCC Russia said.
“The main theme of the Forum was connected with sustainable development. In this trend, cooperation in the socially responsible economy and the use of green bonds, as a tool to attract investors, seem to us very important. We also support the know-how in the field of waste management and the use of technologies aimed at reducing the impact on the environment,” Oleg Prozorov added.
In turn, President of the Russian Investment Agency (RIA) Yuri Spiridonov shared the opinion that the SPIEF “is becoming one of the most significant international forums where tendencies of world’s economic and political development are formulated for many years ahead.”
“Vladimir Putin’s speech on the world economy in terms of the scale of strategic assessments and future forecasts takes on the same significance as his speech in Munich in 2007 [on the unipolarity of modern world politics, delivered at Security Conference],” Yuri Spiridonov said.
In his opinion, the SPIEF is important for the development of the Russian economy.
“This is not only about the contracts signed during the Forum. Disputes between economic leaders and businessmen about the ways and rates of economic development of the country at the event clearly showed that Russia is on the verge of institutional reforms,” the RIA President said.
Meanwhile, Hironori Fushita, Research Fellow at Japan Institute of International Affairs, said that contacts and discussions between Russian and Japanese businessmen continue to deepen.
“The Japan Association for Trade with Russia and the Newly Independent States (ROTOBO) and the All-Russian Public Organization Business Russia jointly held the next business roundtable and exchanged views on the possibilities and prospects for cooperation. Moreover, new Japanese companies representing small and medium businesses that work in completely different fields also participated in the work of SPIEF. Recently, these Japanese enterprises start more business in Russia, especially in the Far East. The most developed areas are the ones of tourism and trade. This, of course, is a very positive trend,” said the Japanese expert, stressing that the SPIEF is becoming a very important platform for those companies that want to find partners in Russia.
In his opinion, in recent years, the priorities and orientations of the Forum have been in a certain way transformed.
“Initially, during the SPIEF, Russia demonstrated foreign businessmen the most important results of reforms that improve the business climate in Russia, and the main purpose of the event was to attract new investors. This tradition continues today. Recently, however, due to changes around the political situation in the world, discussions have focused more on international politics,” Hironori Fushita explained.
“The most discussed result of the Forum in the Japanese media was the message of the Russian leader on solidarity between the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, as well as criticism of the Russian president to the policy of the United States. At the end of the month, the next G20 summit will be held in Osaka, Japan, but during the preliminary ministerial meeting representatives of the G-20 countries could not reach agreement on a number of issues. Against this background, special attention should be paid to the speech of Vladimir Putin at the SPIEF, in which he once again spoke out against globalization and unilateralism,” the analyst concluded.