St. Petersburg International Economic Forum Opens; No Obama To Discourage US Companies' Attendance

June 2, 2017
NBC's Megyn Kelly moderates a panel with Russian President Putin and Indian PM Modi Friday evening at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Photo: Kremlin.ru

On Thursday the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) opened, and will continue with presentations and discussions on scientific and technological breakthroughs and planned development projects, presented in panels through Saturday, June 3.

The May 31 Forbes magazine gives an indication of the high-level guest participants: India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Austrian Chancellor Christian Kern, and the leadership of Russia.

Forbes correctly lays the blame squarely on Obama for the low attendance by U.S. corporations in recent years: "After several years of low attendance, during which the Obama administration actively discouraged U.S. businesses from participating in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia's largest international business gala, this year sees the return of American companies in sufficient numbers to run a separate U.S.-Russia roundtable for the first time in the Forum's history."

The panel discussion topics pose immediate questions for mankind: space science, health, infrastructure, nuclear energy, the possibility of a European-Eurasian integration; healthcare, the Changing Economics of Transportation and Logistics; Russia-India; EAEU-Latin American cooperation; New Frontiers in Scientific Advancement; Building the Infrastructure for Eurasia's Future; Russia-USA; Putting Long-term Capital to Work for Infrastructure Development; Russia-Italy; A New Standard in Economic Cooperation; The Future Being Born Today: Integration and Infrastructure Projects in Eurasia; the BRICS, the SCO, The BRI, the EAEU, — all of which will shape the future.

Friday, at the most highly-attended President's session, Russian President Putin, Prime Minister Modi, and other heads of state will speak, with U.S. journalist Megyn Kelly, now with NBC-TV, moderating and interviewing President Putin. Putin is also scheduled to meet with over 40 heads of sovereign funds from 23 countries, which collectively manage $11.4 trillion, according to Kiril Dmitriev, the head of the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The Administration for the Leningrad region, which surrounds the city of St. Petersburg, is set to sign 130 deals worth over $5 billion.

On June 2, the U.S. Russia Business Council Roundtable will be held, in which senior executives from some of America's leading biggest corporations, including Boeing, Caterpillar, General Electric, and Phillip Morris International will participate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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Highest International Attendance Ever at St. Petersburg Economic Forum

President Vladimir Putin's aide Yuri Ushakov told reporters before June 1-3 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) began Thursday, that it would bring together 511 companies from 62 countries as well as the heads of the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, OPEC, the IMF, and a number of other international organizations. It will be the highest attendance ever at the SPIEF.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will discuss Russia's insufficient representation in some UN bodies, Syria and Ukraine crises, and situation on the Korean Peninsula with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. "It will focus on 'hot' international issues, namely terrorism, then certainly Syria and Korea, and apparently the Ukraine crisis along with issues related to reforming the UN," Ushakov said. "We are closely watching these issues, as Russia's representation at some UN bodies is evidently not sufficient."

Putin will hold short meetings with Austria's Chancellor Christian Kern, President of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq Nechervan Barzani, and Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Yukiya Amano, on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. He went on, "Other meetings (between Putin and other leaders and heads of delegations) are not ruled out."

The first day of the forum will feature the development of small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) in Russia, and in this context, a "Made in Russia" campaign has been launched by the Russian Export Center, to attract clients abroad for products from the country. The Export Center will begin granting the first "Made in Russia" certificates during June, focusing initially on exprts to China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Iran, Indian, South America and the CIS states. Some time later, European markets will be targeted as well.



Putin-Modi Meeting on SPIEF Sidelines

President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, according to Presidential spokesman Yuri Ushakov. "The themes are the fight against terrorism, the situation in the Middle East and North Africa with an emphasis on the Syria crisis, the situation in Afghanistan, and the situation on the Korean Peninsula," Ushakov said.

The list of papers to be signed following Modi's visit "is being finalized, but we expect around ten documents to be signed in the presence of Russian President and Indian Prime Minister," Ushakov said. "Also, the so-called St. Petersburg declaration of Russia and India will be adopted following the talks, which will specify various steps aimed at expansion of bilateral cooperation in the political, economic, scientific, technical and humanitarian areas," he said. 



Putin on Russophobia in the West

At the meeting with the heads of international press agencies, President Putin was first asked by TASS Director General Sergei Mikhailov to comment on the Russophobia in the West. Mikhailov noted that it was often quite humorous (he said that the Baltic countries "have even started suspecting that the popular children's cartoon Masha i Medved could be used as a tool in hybrid war" since Putin had met with the cartoon makers), but added that "excesses of this kind no longer raise a smile and... are even becoming a threat to stability in the world."

Putin responded that the Russophobia was, "in some countries, simply going beyond all bounds." He said this was caused by the fact that the "monopolists" do not like seeing "the emergence of a multipolar world," which is in part "due to Russia's efforts to stand up for its interests, for its legitimate interests," while trying to "contain Russia and limit its lawful desire to protect its national interests. They do this through all kinds of actions that are outside the framework of international law, including economic restrictions. Now, they see that this is not working and has produced no results. This irritates them and rouses them into using other methods to pursue their aims and tempts them to up the stakes. But we do not go along with these attempts, do not offer pretexts for action. They therefore need to invent pretexts out of nowhere."

He said he was optimistic that this would not last long, that there was a "very clear change in the situation," as people recognize that it is "counterproductive and harmful to all."


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

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