On Saturday, June 5, the 24th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum ended in Russia. In four days, 13,000 people from 140 countries visited the SPIEF site, and representatives of government and business concluded more than 800 agreements worth almost 3.9 trillion rubles. The panellists discussed the issues of economic recovery from the consequences of COVID-19, the policy of de-dollarization, the situation with prices and the prospects for the energy industry. What exactly was SPIEF-2021 remembered for – in the RT material.
This year the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum set a new record for the number of agreements signed. During the four days of SPIEF-2021, its participants signed more than 800 investment agreements worth 3.86 trillion rubles. In total, the site was visited by 13 thousand people from 140 countries. This was announced at the final press conference by the adviser to the President of Russia Anton Kobyakov.
“11 thousand Russian and foreign companies. 800 top companies are represented at the level of their leaders. This is an important result of our communication, something for which we thoroughly prepared, ”Kobyakov noted.
The plenary session with the participation of Vladimir Putin has traditionally become the central event of the forum. As the head of state emphasized, SPIEF 2021 was the first major international event since the beginning of the pandemic, where participants can communicate live.
Thus, business ties and contacts began to take on a familiar form again, the Russian leader noted. Moreover, according to him, similar positive trends can now be observed in the global economy.
“Despite the depth of last year’s recession, which, according to experts, was the largest since the Second World War, it is already safe to say that the global economy is returning to normal life. It is expected that this year the growth of global GDP will also be unusually large, it will be the highest since the 70s of the last century: experts speak of 6% growth, “Putin said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin at a plenary session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum – 2021 at the Expoforum Convention and Exhibition Center / RIA Novosti / Evgeny Biyatov
The President also announced the gradual return of the Russian economy to pre-crisis levels. In his opinion, the country managed to avoid a catastrophe, and timely measures by the authorities helped to save millions of jobs and curb the fall in citizens’ incomes.
At the same time, during his speech at the plenary session, Vladimir Putin announced a number of additional initiatives. In particular, it is planned to extend the preferential mortgage program for one more year with an increase in the rate to 7% per annum, as well as to work out the possibilities for paid vaccination of foreigners in Russia. In addition, the head of state instructed to create a permanent program to support youth employment and launch a new business lending mechanism.
Under these conditions, by the end of 2021, Russia’s GDP may grow by 2.8-3%. Moreover, the recovery of exports should also provide significant support to the economy. Viktor Nikolaev, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Otkritie FC Bank, shared this opinion with RT on the sidelines of the forum.
Note that in 2020, against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic, the volume of Russia’s foreign trade fell by more than 15% – to $ 572 billion.However, by the end of 2021, the indicator may return to the pre-crisis level. Vladimir Ilyichev, Deputy Minister of Economic Development and Trade, spoke about this in an interview with RT at SPIEF-2021.
“We are already witnessing quite a noticeable growth. First of all, the mutual volume of trade with the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union is being restored. In particular, we are talking about Belarus and Kazakhstan. Also, the volumes of imports and exports are recovering with South Korea, China and a number of European countries such as France and Germany, ”Ilyichev noted.
Against the dollar and rising prices
In addition to Vladimir Putin’s speech, one of the most discussed events at SPIEF-2021 was the statement by the head of the Ministry of Finance Anton Siluanov about the abandonment of the dollar in the structure of the National Welfare Fund (NWF). According to him, within a month the authorities will stop keeping the NWF money in American currency and will transfer all funds into gold, euros, yuan, yen and pounds sterling.
According to First Deputy Prime Minister Andrei Belousov, the decision is related, among other things, to the risks of possible sanctions from the United States. A similar point of view on the sidelines of the SPIEF was expressed by the head of the Accounts Chamber, Alexei Kudrin.
“It does not change the system of dollar turnover in Russia, it does not change the exchange system or the desire of people to keep this dollar. The question is simply in which foreign assets it is better to store. In this sense, of course, given the sanctions and fears of a deterioration in dollar settlements, which are controlled by the US banks authorized by the Federal Reserve System, this is more of a cautionary step, “Kudrin explained.
The participants of the forum paid special attention to the issue of price increases in Russia. The inflation rate in the country remains significantly higher than the target level of the Central Bank (4%) and in April amounted to 5.5%. According to Anton Siluanov, this state of affairs runs the risk of overheating the Russian economy.
At one of the sessions of SPIEF-2021, the head of the Bank of Russia Elvira Nabiullina also spoke about the increasingly stable nature of inflation. According to her, the regulator has already begun to raise the key rate in order to combat the rise in prices and in the near future plans to keep it at the neutral level of 5-6%.
“We started to return to neutral monetary policy, the delay would lead to the fact that we would have to raise rates even higher and faster. In our opinion, this does not hinder economic growth. The acceleration of inflation, in our opinion, will hinder economic growth, ”Nabiullina emphasized.
Note that, in addition to raising the key rate, to curb inflation at the beginning of the year, the authorities approved a number of initiatives. In particular, agreements on a temporary price freeze between retail chains and sugar and butter producers were also signed. Meanwhile, as Vladimir Ilyichev noted, in the future the government plans to fight the rise in prices for goods mainly by market measures, including subsidies to producers.
One of the topics of discussion on the sidelines of SPIEF-2021 was the prospects for the global energy industry. Thus, as part of the discussion, the head of Rosneft, Igor Sechin, warned of the risks of a shortage of oil and gas in the world in the event of underinvestment in these industries.
“The increase in oil and gas reserves in recent years has been at historic lows, and a certain shortage of resources is already visible now. This trend may become the “new norm” for the world majors and lead to the depletion of the resource base. The world runs the risk of facing an acute shortage of oil and gas, ”Sechin said.
According to him, to maintain the current level of production until 2040, it is necessary to invest about $ 17 trillion in the oil and gas sector. In addition to significant investments, one of the main factors for maintaining stability in the hydrocarbon market should be the preservation of the OPEC + deal. This point of view in an interview with RT on the sidelines of SPIEF-2021 was expressed by the President of LUKOIL Vagit Alekperov.
According to him, without the coordinated efforts of producers in the global raw material market, uncertainty may grow. This state of affairs, in turn, may result in sharp fluctuations in energy prices and even a return of oil prices to $ 140 per barrel, which will be unprofitable for consumers, the top manager is sure. To minimize risks, he also called for the parallel development of alternative energy sources.
Source: Rt на русском