One of the key topics of the forum is support and implementation of investment projects. In addition, the participants will discuss the development of the Arctic, the energy of the future and 5G technologies, as well as the preservation of the environment. They plan to pay special attention to the modernization of national health systems after the pandemic.
The success of Russia in the fight against Covid-19 and the development of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V, recognized worldwide as an effective remedy, made it possible to organize the Forum in a traditional format. Despite the attempts of some countries to provoke a scandal about alleged risks of participating, intermediary results of the SPIEF reflect high-skilled organizational work and quite a promising outcome.
Against the background of the obviously lacklustre forum in Davos this year, the St Petersburg International Economic Forum is a large-scale and well-prepared event. Representatives of the business communities of Africa, Germany, Latin America, Finland, France, Sweden, Japan and even the United States have arrived in the northern capital. The businessmen and investors are willing to develop economic cooperation with Russia in spite of the tense relations between Washington and Moscow, as well as the imposition of sanctions by the US government. Traditionally, a large delegation arrived from China to participate in the Forum.
Qatar became the main participating country this year. Its delegation included representatives of 50 organizations: businessmen, high-ranking officials and politicians. Within the framework of the SPIEF-2021, guests from Qatar will discuss with their Russian partners the strengthening of economic and political relations between states, business and cultural ties, cooperation in the field of ecology and nature conservation, sports and innovation, healthcare and information technology. Moreover, in order to develop and strengthen bilateral economic relations, over 200 B2B meetings of Qatari and Russian entrepreneurs are planned. It is expected that more than 60 agreements will be signed as a result of the meetings.
A significant delegation arrived from Bahrain, whose representatives are eager to expand an economic partnership. In particular, the Kingdom’s leadership has expressed interest in the local production of the Sputnik V vaccine, already officially registered in Bahrain. Businessmen from Iran also want to establish business contacts. Last year, the volume of Iranian exports to Russia increased by 105 percent, while the trade turnover increased by 43 percent.
Among the European guests of the Forum, it is worth mentioning the participation of Italy, which traditionally takes an active part in both business and cultural programs of the Forum. On the SPIEF opening day, the session “Italian experience: small and medium-sized businesses on the way to a circular economy” took place within the framework of the Russian Forum of Small and Medium-Sized Businesses. As part of the main business program of the Forum, a panel discussion “Russia – Italy” will be held with the participation of business representatives and leaders of both countries. Traditionally, heads of Italian regions take part in the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, which has contributed to the development of interregional ties between the countries.
The SPIEF-2021 will be personally attended by senior management of the large foreign businesses, including Total CEO Patrick Pouyanne, Head of Siemens Energy AG Christian Bruch, WHO Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge, World Energy Council Secretary General Angela Wilkinson and World Economic Forum President Börge Brende. The main event will be a speech by President Vladimir Putin at the plenary session. The President of Russia will personally participate in an event of this magnitude for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. On the side-lines of the forum, the Russian president is also scheduled to meet with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Emir of Qatar Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who will also take part in the Forum. During the SPIEF, Putin will hold the usual discussions with business representatives and investors.
In total, this year about two thousand foreign participants have arrived to participate at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. Forum participants have shown considerable interest in the Sputnik V, which has been internationally recognized and is already registered in more than 65 countries. In particular, foreign guests are interested in organizing its supplies and production in their own countries. Some participating experts believe that this interest in the Russian vaccine is understandable since it is an effective and safe vaccine which will facilitate economic recovery in their countries.