03 July / 2015


On June 18-20th St.Petersburg hosted the 19th St.Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). Though the forum was held in uneasy external environment that is characterized by tough anti-Russian western foreign policy and economic sanctions, it has become one of the biggest international economic events of the year, the majority of observers say. This forum has even surpassed those held previously by total number and status of foreign participants, intensity of the program, quantity and importance of the contracts signed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s keynote address that contained principal approach toward the most important international problems and matters of Russian economy became the central event of the forum. In particular, the Russian head of state noted that for all certain hardships of the last year the country could avoid plunging into deep economic crisis, stabilize the situation and adapt to new conditions. Financial, banking, monetary and credit policies, import substitution programs and stimulation of non-raw materials exports have contributed to it. The President highlighted that Russia responds to the restrictions imposed from the outside not by closing off the economy, but by expanding freedom and becoming open, focusing on systemic long-term tasks like improving business climate, supporting small and medium businesses and big investment projects, modernizing and technologically updating the production, perfecting public administration. Active cooperation with the new hubs for global growth in the Asia-Pacific, deepening economic cooperation in Eurasia, developing the potential for economic and trade partnership with countries from Latin America and the BRICS as well as continuing dialogue with traditional western partners are priorities in the international arena, Vladimir Putin said.

On the sidelines of the SPIEF President of Russia Vladimir Putin held bilateral meetings with President of Kyrgyzstan Almazbek Atambayev, Prime Minister of Greece Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Mongolia Saikhanbileg Chimediin, First Vice-Premier of the People’s Republic of China Zhang Gaoli, Deputy heir of Crown Prince, Minister of defense of Saudi Arabia Mohammad bin Salman, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. Vladimir Putin had direct conversation with leading representatives of Russian business, executives of international investment community, heads of foreign companies and business associations, members of world leading news agencies.

Russian Minister of foreign affairs Sergey Lavrov also held a number of bilateral meetings, including a meeting with ESCAP Executive Secretary Shamshad Akhtar, First Vice-Premier, Minister of foreign affairs of Serbia Ivica Dacic, President of Republika Srpska (Bosnia and Herzegovina) Milorad Dodic.

Chiefs of Russian federal executive power met with their foreign partners.

More than 10 thousand people participated in over 150 events within the framework of the SPIEF-2015. Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and BRICS business forums were also organized at the SPIEF for the first time. The forum also held a G20 Business Summit, a session of the Valdai International Discussion Club, meetings of heads of energy companies and information agencies, Development Award and Global Energy Prize award ceremonies. 668 moderators and speakers took part in the discussions, over 2000 media representatives from 43 countries (two times more that in the previous year) covered the SPIEF events.

A record number of foreign participants attended the forum; among them were representatives from 120 countries, including 102 official delegations. Heads of States and Governments of Kyrgyzstan, Greece, Mongolia, Abkhazia and Vice-Presidents of China, Bahrain, Serbia, Iraq, Myanmar were present at the SPIEF events. The participants comprised of around 40 current ministers from over 30 countries, including 7 ministers from the EU countries, heads of over 10 international organizations, particularly IAEA, UNIDO, UNECE, ESCAP, International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Universal Postal Union (UPU), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Eurasian Economic Commission, CIS, SCO. Plenty of eminent politicians took part in the forum including former presidents Vaclav Klaus (Czech Republic) and Shimon Peres (Israel), former prime-ministers Romano Prodi (Italy), Francois Fillon (France), Ehud Barak (Israel), Tony Blair (UK), Yukio Hatoyama (Japan), former Chancellor of Germany Gerhard Schroder.

1500 Russian enterprises and about 200 foreign companies represented on executive level were at the forum; they include multinational corporations such as Royal Dutch Shell Plc, British Petroleum LLC, Total SA, Societe Generale SA, Alibaba Group Holding Limited, Enel SpA, Pirelli & C SpA, Metro AG etc. Over 200 contracts and agreements were signed. The total contract value (excluding commercial classified information) amounted to 300 billion rubles. The most important contracts were the Memorandum between Russia and Greece on cooperation in constructing the “Turkish Stream” gas line (Greek branch), the Agreement between Gazprom and Royal Dutch Shell on cooperation in expanding the “North Stream” gas line. Rosneft, Russian Railways, Rosatom, Lukoil, Rosseti etc. signed major contracts with foreign partners as well.

The second session of the Russian-Chinese Intergovernmental Commission on Investment Cooperation was held within the SPIEF, presided by First Deputy Prime-Minister of the Russian Federation, Chairman of the Russian part of the Commission Igor Shuvalov and Vice-Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Chairman of the Chinese part of the Commission Zhang Gaoli. The two sides approved 29 new projects to the total value of over 20 billion dollars.

Roundtables on prospects of bilateral cooperation between Russia and Japan, India, Finland, Italy, Greece, North America and the Middle East as well as economic cooperation in Latin America, the Arctic, new integration processes in Eurasia and the Asia-Pacific sparked a great deal of interest among the SPIEF participants. Minister of Economic Development of Italy Federica Guidi participated in roundtable on Russian-Italian economic relations and was the only Minister from the G7 who attended the SPIEF and thus displayed the intention of Italy to continue and expand trade and economic cooperation with Russia despite the EU’s policy of sanctions.

The SPIEF-2015 has clearly demonstrated that any attempts to isolate Russia politically and economically and exclude it from global processes of international economic cooperation are unfeasible. Many foreign participants from business community complained that economic sanctions against Russia resulted in billions worth losses for their national companies. Major foreign business enterprises in great numbers participated in the SPIEF frequently in defiance of their national authorities’ official position, a fact that clearly demonstrates a victory of common sense over an artificially created political rhetoric and reassures us that interests of long-term and mutually beneficial economic cooperation will prevail over fugitive and immediate political decisions.