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St. Petersburg International Economic Forum LIVE UPDATES

Published time: June 20, 2013 07:46
Edited time: June 24, 2013 08:42

The 17th International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg has kicked off. More than 4,000 business leaders, policy makers, and economic experts from around the world have come together to brainstorm ways out of the global economic crisis.

This year's theme is 'Finding Resolve to Build the New Global Economy'. The 3–day forum will address a global agenda for a sustained economic growth, looking at Russia in the global context, as well as brainstorming new catalysts for the changes. 

Day 3

16:14 MST: With the three-days of round tables and business negotiations in St. Petersburg having ended, Russia’s Economic Development Minister Sergey Belyakov has told the Russia 24 TV channel that 102 deals worth $316.7 billion were made.

15:54 MST: German global diversified retail and wholesale cash & carry group Metro is ready to increase investment in Russia and wants to enter the Far East. "We've had a presence on this market for over 10 years, during which time we've invested more than $3 billion in Russia, and we intend to increase investment," said Metro Group CEO Carry Olaf Koch.

15:00 MST: "We'll [keep] 50% + 1 share [in VTB bank] until 2016," said Federal Property Agency (Rosimushchestvo) head Olga Dergunova. The state currently owns 60.9% of the country’s second-largest lender.

14:56 MST: Russia plans to spend over US$4 billion in 2014-25 to repair accumulated ecological damage, said Russian Natural Resources and Ecology Minister Sergey Donskoy. “Total investment in the environmental sector should at least double in the next decade,” he said.

14:15 MST: A draft law on amnesty for economic crimes could be presented to the Duma as early as this Sunday, said Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Protection Boris Titov. The first jail releases could take place this summer, Titov added.

14:01 MST: The key concern for the US investors is Russia’s unpredictability, according to Andrew Somers, the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia.  Russia is largely perceived as a country where “any unpredictable thing could happen,” he said.

Andrew Somers (left), President, American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, and David Yakobashvili, Board of Directors member, Sistema, seen at the 17th St.petersburg International Economic Forum (RIA Novosti)

13:59 MST: “We are interested in the growth of Russia’s natural gas deliveries to Britain,” said UK Energy Minister Michael Fallon. Also, we “account for wider cooperation, which includes gas storage, electricity, and infrastructure projects,” Fallon added.

12:52 MST: Russia’s IT research and development centres could receive some $666 million annually from the state starting next year, said Deputy Communications Minister Mark Shmulevich. The Communications and Education & Science ministries’ program is scheduled to run for five years, with 30-50 research centers involved.

13:45 MST: The Russian government may sell its stake in telecoms operator Rostelecom next year "if the situation is favorable and we see that everything is ready and that we can get an adequate price,” said Communications and Mass Media Minister Nikolai Nikiforov.

12:34 MST: Russia’s Federal Property Agency is not planning to sell its stake in Rosneft this year, said agency head Olga Dergunova. The largest possible cut in the state’s stake could be to a controlling one of 50% + 1 share, Dergunova added.

12:14 MST: German shipbuilder Nordic Yards may begin cooperating with its Russian counterparts, said company owner and Managing Director Vitaly Yusufov. Nordic Yards could take on complex orders in which Russia has little experience, Yusufov added. “We have the opportunity jointly to realize projects with the United Shipbuilding Corporation, which includes schemes of technological cooperation,” he concluded.

11:50 MST: Russia’s banking sector needs more competition, according to the IMF. Smaller Russian banks control less than 3% of the market each, while state ones such as Sberbank and VEB constitute almost half of it, said the IMF Managing Director David Lipton. Higher competition could help the transfer of deposits into investment, Lipton concluded.

11:28 MST: Russia’s IT industry could grow three times faster than the country’s GDP over the next three years, said Deputy Communications Minister Mark Shmulevich.  “Venture investment into Russia’s IT industry will go above US$1 billion,” he added.

10:54 MST: Recession is not threatening Russia’s economy, said International Monetary Fund Managing Director David Lipton. “We do not think that stimulating the economy or devaluing the rouble would be useful, since such steps could trigger just short-term growth and lead to higher inflation and a worse investment climate,” Lipton explained.

10:46 MST: The internet is less regulated in Russia than in Europe, according to Ashmanov and Partners CEO Sergey Ashmanov. “The internet cannot be outside the law”, Ashmanov added.

10:18 MST: One of the key problems in Russia’s IT market is a staff deficit, said Mail Group head Dmitry Grishin. “There’s no call in the market for the things that are being taught at institutions of higher education,” Grishin said, adding that this was because Russia’s education still follows the Soviet-era model. 

10:16 MST: Amnesty for economic crimes will be backed by all Duma fractions, said Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Protection Boris Titov. The amnesty will involve those convicted for the first time and who had compensated the losses or are ready to do so, said President Vladimir Putin while addressing the Forum on Friday.

Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Protection Boris Titov. (RIA Novosti)

9:54 MST: Russia’s Labor Ministry has prepared a draft law implementing the payment of higher insurance premiums to the country’s pension fund for people working in hazardous industries. The rate is to go up to 2-10% of an employee’s salary from the current 2-4%.

9:38 MST: Norwegian telecoms company Telenor may increase its share in mobile operator Vimpelcom. “In case Russia’s government revises the rules regarding foreign investors in telecommunication and the second co-owner of Vimpelcom won’t be against that, this could happen in the future,” said Telenor Executive Vice Presiden Kjell-Morten Johnsen.

Here’s the schedule for the 3rd day at the Economic Forum in St. Petersburg.









Day 2 

19:00 MST: We are wrapping up coverage at SPIEF for today, join us again tomorrow for LIVE UPDATES.

18:50 MST: Russia plans to sign bilateral agreements with offshore territories on broadening tax data exchanges.

18:35 MST: Vnesheconombank (VEB) had signed a memorandum of understanding on the development of the Vladivostok International Airport with the Baikal Region Development Fund and the Pirmorye territorial administration at the Forum.

18:29 MST: President Putin gives Chancellor Merkel a topography painting symbolizing Russian-German peace after the war of 1892 as a polite gesture. 

18:28 MST: President Vladimir Putin optimistic on a "regular" Russian-German dialogue.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a joint news conference with President Vladimir Putin in St. Petersburg. (RIA Novosti/Vladimir Astapkovich)

18:28 MST: "We will not set up any barriers for Russian enterprises" - Merkel.

18:26 MST: "For progress, we don't need to inflate the issue, we need to meet each other half way. We don't need to start a debate right now," Putin said after a reporter asked a question on the art exhibition controversy of Germany's 'trophy art' from WWII being held at the Hermitage museum.

18:21 MST: "These are not games, these are not toys, you need to be pragmatic and practical" - Putin.

18:20 MST: Syrians must decide if President Assad stays or goes- Putin. 

18:16 MST: Putin warns the political vacuum that would appear if the West takes out Assad could be filled by terrorist organizations.

18:15 MST: Putin and Merkel again field Q&A on Syria.

18:00 MST: Business activity indicators for Sochi2014 have grown 12-fold.

17:53 MST: UniCredit, which has been active in Russia for 25 years, plans to increase market share from its current 2 percent hold, according to Chairman Giuseppe Vita.

17:40 MST: Rosneft has signed an agreement with two Japanese companies to deliver Russian LNG starting in 2019.

17:31 MST: Executive Vice President, Citigroup, Edward Skyler, in an interview with RT:

"The cities that are becoming the most competitive and the fastest are emerging market cities whether its Incheon in South Korea, whether it is Mumbai, whether its Sao Paulo, these are the ones that are moving the fastest .We project that the top 400 emerging market cities will probably contribute over half the GDP growth between now and 2025." 

Video: /files/news/1f/7d/a0/00/original_skyler.asf 

17:15 MST: Tim Dodson, executive VP of Statoil, on the Rosneft-China deal:

"I think it underlines the overall potential that Russia has, that would be the major supply both of gas and oil for many many decades ahead. Two thirds of yet-to-be-discovered resources on the planet are in the Arctic and these positions are being taken now- including Russia- and we have been fortunate to be part of that together with Rosneft."

Video: /files/news/1f/7d/a0/00/original_todson.asf 

17:05 MST: Putin promises to provide a duplicate of the ring 'in case the ring is of any value'.

17:04 MST: "I don't recall that certain souvenirs were handed over" - Putin.

17:03 MST: Now for the 'international question of intrigue' - the Super Bowl ring.

17:01 MST: "I do have a certain degree of skepticism" - Merkel, on Turkey.

17:00 MST: Tune in to the live debate:

President Vladimir Putin speaks at the 17th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. (RIA Novosti/Michael Klimentyev)

16:58 MST: "Those who are good in this world is decided by competition. I think Europe right now is faced with understanding that globalization is presenting new challenges, and we can only confront them together" - Merkel.

16:53 MST: "We cannot recapitalize the Europeans banks without the national governments taking a burden" - Merkel.

16:52 MST: "It shouldn't always be the taxpayer who pays for 'too big too fail' banks. We need a cascade of responsibilities" - Merkel.

16:51 MST: Russia is ready to listen to our partners under the conditions no one dictates rules in a mentoring tone, Putin said. "We have to say lofty words to be heard."

16:50 MST: Russia's president is not someone who keeps his voice down, Merkel said.

16:49 MST: "Europe is the biggest partner of Russia. We have more than $400 billion in trade turnover, so we are moving towards achieving cooperation" - Putin.

16:44 MST: "I don't potential partnership between EU and Russia has been fully utilized" - Merkel.

16:39 MST: We need to assume cheap energy won't be available and we need to go after more difficult and hard to reach oil and gas reserves - Putin.

16:37 MST: Putin says Gazprom prices are comparable to American prices. 

16:35 MST: The world adjusts to changes: shale gas is a factor that affects energy market today, but it is not fundamental- Putin

16:33 MST: The debt of Russia is 2.5 percent, the Eurozone is 10 or 11 percent.

16:31 MST: “I want Europe to remain a prospering continent which can compete with the rest of the world,” Merkel said.

16:29 MST: It wasn't Germany who decided on austerity, it was a shared EU decision - Merkel.

16:27 MST: "We have not yet returned to a full global balance" - Merkel.

16:26 MST: "It was not a surprise for us, it is a decision in the right direction. I believe its a healthy decision," Putin said on the US Federal Reserve's decision on quantitative easing. 

16:24 MST: The debt of Russia is 2.5 percent, the eurozone is 10 or 11 percent.

16:23 MST: "The UK is part of the EU, it is enriching us. it can be a very good driver" - Merkel.

16:22 MST:  "Everyone in the G8 is working towards relieving suffering and instability in Syria" - German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and guest of honor German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the 17th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. PMEF.(RIA Novosti/Michael Klimentyev)