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First day of SPIEF-2018 to focus on digitalization, human capital and Russian GDP growth

This year’s forum is expected to gather about 15,000 participants representing 70 countries

ST. PETERSBURG, May 24. /TASS/. Digitalization, measures to spur economic innovations and development of human capital will be the main issues up for discussion during the first day of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

Members of Russia’s new government, appointed on May 18, will answer questions from representatives of the international business community.
This year’s forum is expected to attract about 15,000 participants representing 70 countries.

Meeting with investors

The participants of the forum expect the discussions, in some form or another, to mention Russian President Vladimir Putin’s new May decree, in which he called to step up Russia’s technological development and the use of digital technologies, and assigned the government with making Russia one of the world’s top five major economies with economic growth rates exceeding world levels.

On the event’s sidelines, Putin will meet with members of the Russian Direct Investment Fund’s International Advisory Board and global investors. Heads of about 40 major investment funds from 20 countries, including France, Japan, China, India, Italy, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Turkey are expected to attend.

The first day of the forum will also feature several roundtables, devoted to bilateral Russian-Chinese and Russian-European relations.

Growth through digitalization and innovations

All events of SPIEF-2018 will be divided in four categories: "The Global Economy in an Era of Change," "Harnessing Russia’s Growth Potential," "Human Capital in the Digital Economy" and "Technology for Leadership."

This year, the forum’s first day will kick off with a business breakfast, headlined ‘Doing Business in Russia: What has been achieved and what’s next?’ The participants will discuss Russia’s business climate, state support for businesses, including foreign ones, as well as measures to make the business environment more favorable and remove administrative barriers.

One of the forum’s most intense debates may unfold during a panel discussion, entitled ‘Putting Russian Economy on a Sustained Path of Growth: Challenges and Solutions.’ Russian Audit Chamber Chairman Alexei Kudrin, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Russian Central Bank Chief Elvira Nabiullina, First Deputy Prime Minister Anton Siluanov and Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin are expected to take part.

The participants will discuss what structural transformations are required to boost economic growth rates; where the resources to speed up this process can be found; which budgetary policies will secure trust in macroeconomic institutions while providing the conditions necessary for accelerated growth and what might act as the next driver for economic growth.

Alexander Shokhin, President of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, believes that special attention will be paid to cultivating traditional sectors of the economy as well as new trends in digitalization. To that end, state officials and businessmen will gather for a panel discussion headlined "Digitalization - an Engine for Growth and Inclusive Development" to address new business models and government policies that should be employed to support the digital transformation, including the development of a digital infrastructure, digital literacy, and related skills. The event will be held as part of the B20 regional consultation forum.

Made in Russia

National and territorial branding should become an important tool of Russia’s economic development, according to participants of a session entitled "Made in Russia: National and Regional Branding as Tools for Economic Development and Promoting Russia around the World." Numerous initiatives have emerged at both the federal and regional levels in recent years, but they have failed to produce significant results on a national scale.

"To address these goals, Russia needs a combination of effective measures to establish an overall national communication strategy, a national Made in Russia brand campaign, and an IT platform to promote Russia's manufacturing, export, tourism and cultural potential, as well as its human capital," reads a comment to this session, to take place on Thursday afternoon.

Besides, the Russian Export Centre will organize a roundtable debate on developing non-resource exports. The Russian Export Centre’s new head, Andrey Slepnev, will take part in the discussion.

Moreover, the US Trade Chamber in Russia and EY for the first time will present the results of their research into trade and economic ties between US and Russia.

Human capital

A vast section of discussions will traditionally be devoted to the development of the social sphere, media and the environment. Panel discussions on cultivating human capital, particularly amid rapidly development technologies, international labor market transformations and robotization, are scheduled to be held within the framework of the forum’s business program.

The social sector-themed discussions on the first day will be centered around medicine and healthcare. The panel discussion, headlined "Pathways for the Medicine of the Future: Who Will Treat People in 30 Years’ Time?" will bring together Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Mikhail Paltsev, Project Leader of the Biomarker Transfer Department at the Medical University of Vienna Kurt Krapfenbauer, President of the Harbin Medical University Yang Baofeng and other prominent figures for a debate on what kind of healthcare system we can expect in 30 years.

The issue of rapidly developing social networks and the transformation of media space, traditionally raised at economic forums, will be discussed at "The Future of Journalism" media summit with the participation of AP Vice President for International News Ian Phillips, ANSA CEO Giuseppe Cerbone, Kyodo News Executive Director Hiroki Sugita, other international participants and heads of Russia’s leading media outlets, including TASS. The participants will try to answer questions on who has the right to consider himself a journalist in the modern world, is there a future for traditional journalism amid so much rapid global change and will there be any demand for the traditional media in 10 years.

Sports and culture

The SPIEF-2018 forum traditionally includes sporting and cultural events, including a basketball match for the Roscongress Foundation Cup between the Forum Team and the St. Petersburg Government Team, comprised of politicians, business leaders, and prominent athletes.

As part of the cultural program, the Japanese group AUN J Classic Orchestra will perform in St. Petersburg for the first time with a program of popular classics, film scores, and traditional Japanese works. The audience will have an opportunity to hear the sounds of authentic Japanese string, wind, and percussion instruments.

St. Petersburg’s leading museums will open their doors to participants, who only need to show their participant's ID to get free entry.
The forum will also coincide with city-wide celebrations of the 315th anniversary of St. Petersburg.

Regional agenda

Heads of Russian regions will also take part in SPIEF-2018, including in events on Russia’s bilateral relations with France, Finland and other nations. Many Russian regions and cities will showcase their investment potential at the exhibition area.
Traditionally, the results of the national investment climate ranking of Russian regions will be unveiled as part of the forum.


The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum will be held on May 24-26. The events of the forum have been banded together under the motto of "creating an economy of trust". TASS news agency is the general information partner and the official photohost agency of the event. The news service is also the operator of the forum’s presentation zone, supported by the EY consulting company and the Foreign Investment Advisory Council.