The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) will return to the in-person format after a one-year pause, bringing together about 5,000 participants from Russia and abroad to discuss pressing issues of the new post-pandemic reality.
Russia has declared its readiness to share experience of overcoming consequences of the pandemic, and urges other countries to team up in dealing with poverty, unemployment, environmental issues and other problems aggravated by the crisis.
The 24th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum was scheduled for June 3-6, 2020, but was cancelled as the novel coronavirus infection started to spread all over the world. Nearly all in-person meetings and events with mass participation were canceled all over the globe amid quarantines and lockdowns, while international air service was brought to a halt. The world’s oldest and most reputed exhibitions, salons and conferences were canceled. On March 5, 2020, SPIEF organizers decided to postpone the forum.
Although the pandemic is still far from being over, governments are gradually easing pandemic-related restrictions. This year’s economic forum in St. Petersburg will be the first event of this scope and scale in Russia since the novel coronavirus infection started to spread rapidly across the world in early 2020.
The number of participants is way below the record attendance of 19,000, registered in 2019. It was restricted in order to facilitate social distancing and disinfection measures at the venue. Attendance is permitted only to those who tested negative for the novel coronavirus.
The event in St. Petersburg will be visited by about 2,000 foreign participants representing 53 nations. The largest delegations are expected from Qatar, the guest country of this year’s forum, as well as from the United States and China.
Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz will address the event’s plenary session via a video linkup. Russian President Vladimir Putin will address its participants in person.
The topic of this year’s forum is ‘Together Again - Economy of New Reality.’ More than a hundred discussion panels are scheduled to discuss a widest range of economic, social and cultural aspects of the world’s post-pandemic development. Their main goal is to find opportunities for ‘restarting’ the global economy and modernizing its structure by removing excessive restrictions to achieve fairer and more sustainable growth and development.
Although large-scale businesses are usually seen as the forum’s most prominent participants, the discussion will be opened by members of small-and medium-sized businesses. The inaugural day, June 2, will focus on measures to support small-and medium-sized businesses, the task set by President Putin earlier this year, during his State of the Nation Address to Russia’s bicameral parliament, the Federal Assembly.
The main program of the event will begin on June 3. It is split into four main themes: Joining Forces to Advance Development; Delivering on National Development Targets; the Human Factor in Responding to Global Challenges; and New Technology Frontiers.
One of the first discussions on those topics will be launched by Bank of Russia chief Elvira Nabiullina, Presidential Aide Maxim Oreshkin, Economic Development Minister Maxim Reshetnikov and Finance Minister Anton Siluanov during the session, headlined ‘The Russian Economy: From the Anti-Crisis Agenda to Sustainable Development.’ Participants will try to answer the following questions: What are the primary changes brought about by the pandemic, and what norms, behaviors and rules will reshape the economy in the near future? What can be done to adapt to the new normal quickly and accelerate recovery? How might Russia capitalize on new growth opportunities that may emerge in the post-crisis environment?
A session, headlined ‘Transport as the Backbone of Economy’ will look into whether the traditional reliance on infrastructure investments will be justified. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, Transport Minister Vitaly Savelyev and heads of major transport companies will discuss implementation of national programs aimed at creating and developing international transport corridors, the creation of a new transport backbone and new goals of the ‘Safe and High-Quality Roads’ national project.
One of the main sessions of the Russia-Qatar business dialogue will also be held on June 3 to discuss further development of investment and economic relations between the two nations.
The plenary session will be among the highlights of the forum’s next day, June 4. Russian President Vladimir Putin's speech will be devoted mainly to socio-economic development of Russia and its investment attractiveness. The Russian leader will also take part in the follow-up discussion.
As the president has said on many occasions, Russia is ready for close, but equal cooperation with its foreign partners, and is prepared to share its experience in healthcare, digitalization and other areas. Russia is also interested in improving its infrastructure in telecommunications, energy and transport, and in joint work on environment and climate-related topics.
The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum will be held on June 2-5 in a face-to-face format with all anti-coronavirus measures observed. This year, the event is dedicated to collectively addressing the new economic reality the world is facing following COVID-19. Its program lists over one hundred discussions. TASS is the official photo hosting agency and information partner of the event.