The 25th SPIEF arrives at an uncertain time

The 24th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum at the ExpoForum Congress and Exhibition Center in St. Petersburg, Russia on June 5, 2021. /VCG

The 24th St. Petersburg International Economic Forum at the ExpoForum Congress and Exhibition Center in St. Petersburg, Russia on June 5, 2021. /VCG

Editor’s note: James Rae is a professor at California State University Sacramento. He was also a Fulbright Scholar at Beijing Foreign Studies University from 2017 to 2018. The article reflects the opinions of the author, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum takes place from June 15 to 18. Hosted annually by Russia, the 25th gathering is expected to include representatives from more than 140 countries and territories, including dozens of foreign ministers, and provides an opportunity to discuss global economic, social and technological issues, especially those affecting Russia.

Sometimes known as “Russian Davos”, it serves as a reminder of Russia’s importance, particularly in geopolitics and energy, and has often featured a who’s who of world political and business leaders. This year, Egypt is presented as a guest country and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi will participate in a plenary meeting of SPIEF on June 17.

SPIEF comes at a difficult time both for Russia and for virtually every country in the global economy. Inflation is spreading to the coasts, with food and energy prices soaring, and with no end in sight. Some countries, from Israel to Singapore, are slowly emerging from pandemic lockdowns to open up their tourism sectors as well as their wider economies. Some other countries are taking slower steps to restart trade.

We are not out of the woods yet, although we have recently glimpsed hope that capacity may increase and global supply chains have recovered to near normal rates. Yet the unleashing of pent-up demand and overstimulatory policies in the United States are hurting the recovery as inflation has accelerated over the past year, driven by supply limits, especially in the energy sector. None of the world’s largest economies are yet producing sustained growth, and uncertainties prevail in both policy preferences and the market.

For a country like Russia, sanctions are a major impediment to its short-term economic viability, but high energy prices are spurring the accumulation of significant revenue. SPIEF will explore the limits and opportunities of Russia’s near-term economic future. One of the avenues included at the forum will be the BRICS confabulation, where countries like Brazil, India, China and South Africa provide respite for Russian planners and diplomats to strategize for investment and development. among the largest emerging economies.

Other panels will describe existing challenges facing Russia and work on new paths in the existing environment, including those for Russia’s financial sector, internet and cyberspace, and other elements of the new economy. Some panels will address new challenges, such as preserving national identity in the information age by mobilizing resources to build a strong country through patriotism and tradition.

An oil pump jack in Almetyevsk district, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, May 10, 2021. /VCG

An oil pump jack in Almetyevsk district, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia, May 10, 2021. /VCG

We will also see Russia emphasizing bilateral and multilateral relations with countries in the Middle East like Egypt, Iran and Turkey, as well as regional frameworks like the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Moscow has also renewed emphasis on continents like Latin America and Africa, where diplomatic ties are stronger. Russia will also look to new trade routes and growing export routes that will allow it to maintain its energy-dense production, particularly in the North Sea and Arctic Ocean. Finally, other panels will challenge Western norms and pressures.

This year’s SPIEF could be a pivot towards a more national development strategy for Russia and other countries after the Donald Trump-era break with globalization. Alternatively, it could refocus international relations and the political economy towards the Global South, where Russia finds more welcoming leadership and state development projects that better suit its own orientation.

Delegates from these countries can focus on fairer economic relations and find benefits and opportunities with BRICS countries that sponsor growth-oriented infrastructure and projects. Perhaps this will also serve as Russia’s return to the world stage and provide a tentative pathway to rebuilding great power relations with an eye to future forums that most of the world attended and the global economy enjoyed. prosperity and harmony.

As with any major international gathering of this kind, it will do no harm but will provide a forum for dialogue and discussion. This year’s meeting is taking place amid great uncertainty in the global economy, and the current path we are embarking on looks dismal and destructive. SPIEF began at a time of unleashed globalization in the era of prosperity in the 1990s, and serves not only as a reminder but also as a bridge to a hopeful future when countries cooperate for the benefit win- winner of economic integration.

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