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ST. PETERSBURG, May 22. /ITAR-TASS/. The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, a leading international economic and business forum held annually in Russia, opens on Thursday with 6,500 people from 72 countries taking part.
A total of 2,500 business people will take part in the forum, and 140 heads of foreign companies, mostly from European countries, as well as 469 heads of Russian companies are expected to attend.
The forum will run three days, and will focus on the strengthening of trust in the epoch of transformations. President Vladimir Putin will take part in a plenary session on May 23.
Thirty-four leaders of major foreign companies, mainly American, have refused to attend the forum under the pressure of their government amid the developments in Ukraine. Many of them were regular participants in previous forums. The companies themselves are not boycotting the forum, and will be represented by top managers of second level or regional directors.
Deputy Minister of Economic Development Sergei Belyakov told Tass earlier that the organizers of the forum had sent a letter to the company leaders refusing to attend the forum saying this would not influence the activity of their companies in Russia.
Officials and entrepreneurs polled by Itar-Tass said the absence of the leadership of some major transnational corporations at the forum would not tell on the level and results of discussions and negotiations. They believe the fact that the forum takes place at a difficult from the political point of view time only makes it more important. The tasks facing its participants are to look for answers to global challenges, to increase western investors’ trust in projects in Russia.
Managers and business people plan to discuss at the St. Petersburg Economic Forum most topical issues, including ways to prevent recession and restore economic growth and an inflow of capital, as well as to give a boost to Russian business in the eastern direction.
Eighty-two sessions in different formats are scheduled for the forum. Traditionally, Russian companies time the signing of their investment agreements to the forum. Last year, contracts worth a record 9.6 trillion roubles were signed, with 8.8 trillion roubles accounting for an agreement between Russia’s Rosneft and China for the supply of oil within 25 years. This year, at least 25 agreements are expected to be signed.