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City news, 07.06.2008 08:04

The XII Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum

Over the years the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg has snowballed in popularity and significance to become one of the most prestigious venues for economic dialogue in the world. This year the 12th annual forum looks set to be another great opportunity for international debate and major economic decisions.

According to Elvira Nabiullina, the Head of the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia, the SPIEF has become "a world brand," after last year's attendance of thousands of representatives of the global elite. Nabiullina, who is organizing the event together with the Federation Council of Russia, said that during last year's forum agreements were signed to the tune of $13.5 billion.

This year the attendance is expected to be even bigger: Over 120 foreign delegations and over 1,000 Russian and foreign business representatives have already confirmed their participation in the Forum.

Moreover, the XII SPIEF will mark the first post-inauguration international event for President Dmitry Medvedev (Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's presence is still not confirmed). The forum will be held on June 6-8 during the most beautiful time of the year in St. Petersburg, known as "white nights." The actual working sessions of the forum will take place on June 7-8, with international economic affairs debated on June 7, and the strong and weak points of Russia's economy discussed informally on June 8. There will also be place and time for entertainment: a major concert will be held on Dvortsovaya Square, while nume­rous events and themed exhibitions will be organized all over the city.

Among the significant events scheduled to take place during the forum is the naming of the company which will maintain ventures funds. Also during the forum a presentation of the first Russian Commodities and Mercantile Exchange will be made. It is yet unclear when the exchange will become fully operational, though it will obtain a license in time for the forum.

The key topic of the XII SPIEF is the global deficit of primary goods and provisions. RIA Novosti reports that during his meeting with the press German Gref, CEO of Sberbank, spoke about the main topics of discussion at the forum. "Market globalization and protection of national economic interests are primarily featured on the forum's agenda", stated Gref. Indeed, if last years' debated revolved around the lack of energy resources, this year the situation is much more critical. At the moment there is global shortage of many primary goods on national markets. A matter of great importance is to discuss new models of market development which will combine national interests with the interests of the global market. Decisions made here will be crucial to development over the next 10 years.

The second day of the forum will open with a discussion about the future development plan for Russia. Another important debate will focus on the challenges that Russia has to face right now and up to the year 2020. These challenges include economic innovation, investment in private capital, infrastructure development and the transparency of government Insti­tutions - "the four Is" of Dmitry Medvedev's economic agenda.

All in all, the XII SPIEF is shaping up to be one of the principal economic events of the year, providing a significant boost to the profile of Russia's growing economy.

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