Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) arrives for the ceremony of presenting credentials at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 5, 2020. China is taking
Russian President Vladimir Putin (C) arrives for the ceremony of presenting credentials at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 5, 2020. China is taking "decisive and vigorous" measures to fight the novel coronavirus, Vladimir Putin said Wednesday at the ceremony of presenting credentials by ambassadors of 23 countries, including China. (Xinhua/Bai Xueqi)

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) is kicking off at the ExpoForum Convention and Exhibition Center in the Russian northern capital on Wednesday and will last until June 5, bringing together thousands of business representatives.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will participate in the plenary session of the forum on Friday. SPIEF is the first event of this magnitude since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, in which the Russian president will be participating in face-to-face format.

Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz and Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani have been invited to the SPIEF and will participate remotely.

High-ranking representatives from Iran, Mexico and the Central African Republic (CAR), as well as President of the World Economic Forum Borge Brende, Total CEO Patrick Jean Pouyanne, and Siemens Energy AG head Christian Bruch are also expected to attend the SPIEF.

The forum will be held with strict observance of COVID-19 safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, taking into account the requirements of the World Health Organization (WHO). Up to 20,000 people are expected to attend the event, which will include more than 100 discussions dedicated to various economic, social and technological subjects.

SPIEF AGENDA

The SPIEF business program will be opened by Russian Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, who will hold a working breakfast for media representatives who are recognized as foreign agents in Russia.

The forum will include business dialogues between Russia, the US, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Finland, Japan, Latin America and Africa. Prospects for economic cooperation within the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) will be discussed, as well as the risks that sanctions pose for the global financial system and international business.

One of the key topics of the SPIEF will be the support and implementation of various investment projects. The modernization of national healthcare systems following the pandemic and other healthcare improvements and medical technologies will also be discussed.

The forum’s agenda will also include issues related to the development of the Arctic, “green” energy, and 5G and Big Data technology. Three Nobel Peace Prize laureates – Riccardo Valentini, Rae Kwon Chung, and Rodney John Allam – will discuss scenarios for the future of global energy at the SPIEF.

One of the SPIEF sessions will be dedicated to Russia’s experience in hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup and Qatar’s preparation for the upcoming 2022 World Cup.

Other events at the forum include a business-dialogue between the Eurasian Economic Union and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (EAEU-ASEAN).

Helga Maria Schmid, the secretary general of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), has told Sputnik that she plans to raise the issue of female economic empowerment during the forum.

COVID PRECAUTIONS

St. Petersburg Governor Alexander Beglov has emphasized that special attention will be paid to coronavirus safety measures at the economic forum. All participants will need to provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result.

All SPIEF personnel and organizers will be vaccinated against the coronavirus and will be tested daily. Employees of St. Petersburg hotels that will house forum participants and guests will also be required to get tested for COVID-19.

Special air filtering equipment will be used at the SPIEF venue and all people will be subject to temperature monitoring.

The economic forum will also have a cultural program (including a music concert) dedicated to volunteers and healthcare personnel who have been working during the pandemic.

The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum has been held since 1997, and since 2006 it has been held under the patronage and with the participation of the President of the Russian Federation. In 2020, the forum was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Rossiya Segodnya International Information Agency, the umbrella media organization that includes such brands as Sputnik, RIA Novosti, InoSMI, and Baltnews, among others, is an official media partner of the event.

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