Geopolitical Report ISSN 2785-2598 Volume 20 Issue 12
Author: Vlad Antonov
The Russian Federation will host international business companies and government representatives at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF 2022), an event that underlines the Kremlin’s economic strategy and foreign politics in Eurasia and the global arena.
On June 15th, 2022, the 25th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) kicked off. This event is the most significant annual economic conference in Russia, often referred to in the press as “Russian Davos” (similar to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland). At the SPIEF, state leaders, finance ministers, heads of Russian and foreign companies, financiers, and scientists meet to discuss economic issues facing Russia, the markets of developing countries and the world as a whole.
Representatives of 127 countries and territories confirmed participation in SPIEF 2022. Over 2.7 thousand business representatives are planning to attend, including more than one thousand heads of companies.
On June 17th, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin will attend SPIEF 2022 plenary session. The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, and the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, will attend the meeting via video link. At the same time, the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, will deliver a video message.
In 2022, since the fundamental change in the international political situation due to the Ukraine crisis, the topics of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum have significantly changed. If earlier the countries of the West took the widest part in the Forum, today their place is occupied by the countries of Eurasia and the East – India, China and other Asian and African countries.
India, Egypt and Afghanistan’s delegations to SPIEF 2022
An Indian delegation led by the Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Chemical Industry and Fertilizers, Mansukh Mandavia, will participate in SPIEF 2022. According to Indian media reports, the delegation from New Delhi will focus on the supply of fertilisers and potassium. India’s interest in participating in SPIEF was explained by Rameshwar Singh, head of DISHA, the India-Russia Friendship Society. According to him, SPIEF provides an excellent opportunity for the Indian business class to explore Russian manufacturing centres as the world faces a commodity shock.
“Russia has large stockpiles of many commodities that India and other emerging markets might find attractive,” Singh said.
Egypt, one of Russia’s key trading partners in Africa for many years, will take a vast part in SPIEF 2022. The Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will represent his country at SPIEF 2022. He plans to speak at the plenary session of the forum together with the President of Russia via video link.
A Russia-Egypt business dialogue is also planned at the SPIEF venues. It is noted that Russian and Egyptian businesses’ interest in implementing joint projects is growing. The parties attach great importance to the Russian industrial zone being created in the economic zone of the Suez Canal, which can give a new impetus to the deepening of industrial cooperation between the two countries and become an entrance gate for Russian enterprises to the markets of several other countries of the African continent. In this regard, within the framework of the discussion, the opportunities for cooperation between Russia and Egypt will be discussed in the new economic reality, and the directions of financial and investment interaction are other issues.
The Afghan authorities are also interested in participating in the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. A delegation from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCI) of Afghanistan will visit SPIEF 2022 to discuss issues of gas, oil and wheat supplies with Russian companies. The deputy chairman of the chamber, Mirwais Hotak, told TASS that the Afghan delegation plans to meet with oil and gas companies on the subject of further cooperation between Afghanistan and Russia. Hotak also noted that the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan and Roscongress would sign a memorandum of cooperation on the sidelines of the SPIEF.
“We are going to sign a memorandum of understanding tomorrow, June 16th, with Roscongress to promote further cooperation with Afghan businessmen,” he said.
Also meaningful is the participation in SPIEF 2022 of representatives of Palestine, which is currently in the stage of aggravation of relations with Israel. According to the Ambassador of Palestine in Moscow, Abdel Hafiz Nofal, the Minister of National Economy of Palestine, Khaled Oseili, will participate in SPIEF. During the visit of the Palestinian minister, in addition to participating in program events, he may meet with the head of the Russian Ministry of Labor, Anton Kotyakov, who is the co-chairman of the Russian-Palestinian intergovernmental commission.
In addition to the updated list of participants, the SPIEF 2022 program of events reflects current issues of the international political situation. For example, significant attention is planned to be paid to food security issues. A special panel on Food Security: Global Challenges and Opportunities will address rising food prices, assessed as threatening to escalate into catastrophic global hunger. According to the UN World Food Program, the crisis will affect 44 million people in 38 countries this year.
As the organisers of SPIEF note, to respond to this unprecedented challenge facing humanity, it is necessary to abandon politically motivated restrictions and move towards coordination of efforts and cooperation at the global community level. With its unique agro-industrial potential, Russia plays a key role in food security and agriculture. Representatives of leading agricultural producers like Russia, Brazil and India will participate in the food security discussion. The participants in the debate will also be the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Senegal to the Russian Federation, representing the African continent, which is most prone to the food crisis.
SPIEF 2022 and logistics and transportation in Eurasia
It should be noted that SPIEF can also become an important platform for the further development of transport and logistics corridors on the Eurasian continent, particularly the International North-South Transport Corridor(INSTC) passing through the land and sea territory of the Caspian region.
In the context of a radical change in the logistics of the Eurasian transport routes due to the situation in Ukraine, the Russian authorities consider the Caspian direction as one of the most promising directions for entering the markets of the Middle East and South Asia. In this regard, Igor Babushkin, the governor of the Astrakhan region, a key transit point on the INSTC, takes a personal part in the forum.
“We are working with a delegation from the Astrakhan region at the XXV St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. The region presents its own stand, the visitors of which will be able to get acquainted with the project of the Caspian cluster. During the SPIEF 2022, some important agreements for the region will be signed here,” the governor wrote in his telegram channel.
The issues of Eurasian transport logistics on the sidelines of the SPIEF have already been discussed at the Trilogy international transport conference (Transport, Investment, Logistics). It, for example, noted that out of the three currently operating multimodal container transportation routes from St. Petersburg, two transport corridors are oriented to India. In addition, the Russian Railways holding plans to open a new transport corridor between Russia and India to transport containerised cargo in the North-South direction. After the launch of new trains, the number of container lines from St. Petersburg will grow to four.
Thus, the 25th Anniversary St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, which started today, is one of the significant milestones in transforming the geopolitics of Eurasia and the world as a whole.
Tass (2022) Путин поучаствует 17 июня в пленарном заседании ПМЭФ и встретится с лидерами ряда стран (Putin will take part in the plenary session of the SPIEF on June 17 and will meet with the leaders of several countries). Link: https://tass.ru/ekonomika/14912509 .
Kallol Bhattacherjee, Bindu Shajan Perappadan (2022) Health Minister Mandaviya to visit Russia for economic meet, The Hindu. Link: https://www.thehindu.com/business/Economy/health-minister-mandaviya-to-visit-russia-for-economic-meet/article65526362.ece
SPIEF (2022) Russia – Egypt. Link: https://forumspb.com/program/business-program /97803/
Tass (2022) Делегация ТПП Афганистана обсудит на ПМЭФ поставки пшеницы, газа и нефти с компаниями РФ (The delegation of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Afghanistan will discuss the supply of wheat, gas and oil with Russian companies at SPIEF), Link: https://tass.ru/ekonomika/14911693.
Alex Sinelshikouv (2022) The Russian-Ukrainian conflict and its impact on food and regional security, Geopolitical Report ISSN 2785-2598, Volume 17(7). Link: https://www.specialeurasia.com/2022/03/25/ukrine-conflict-food-crisis/
 Igor Babushkin (2022) Работаем с делегацией от Астраханской области на XXV Петербургском международном экономическом форуме (We are working with a delegation from the Astrakhan region at the XXV St. Petersburg International Economic Forum). Link: https://t.me/babushkin30/511
The report is in media partnership with Kaspiskiy Vestnik. The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpecialEurasia.