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Sochi investment forum to discuss regional development in conditions of Western sanctions

The forum’s business programme will be opened on September 19 by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev

SOCHI, September 18. /ITAR-TASS/. An international investment forum Sochi-2014 opens in this Black Sea resort city to discuss prospects for the development of Russian regions in conditions of Western sanctions and Russia’s bent towards the East.

The forum’s business programme will be opened on September 19 by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev who will speak at a plenary session dedicated to the topic “Russian Between Europe and Asia: A New Regional Policy in Present-day Conditions.”

The prgramme will feature 30 roundtable meetings that will focus of the budgetary process, on measures to boost the efficiency of budgetary spending, on the development of infrastructure within the partnership between the government and private businesses, on the possibilities of import substitution in specific industries and on promoting Russian innovation projects on the global market.

Russian ministers will join the forum after a government session that is to consider a draft federal budget for 2015-2017. Businessmen pin hopes of this meeting to clarify changes in the Russian tax system, particularly, on the prospects of a sales tax, a subject of heated debates in the recent months.

One of the most sensitive topics will be protection of the rights of businessmen in the light of the recent arrest of the AFK Sistem CEO Vladimir Yevtushenkov, who is charged involvement in a money-laundering scheme with the assets of oil companies in the Urals Republic of Bashkortostan, which are now part of Bashneft oil producer controlled by the tycoon. Some Russian businessmen are afraid that Yevtushenko’s arrest might adversely impact investment climate in the country.

The Sochi forum is Russia’s second largest format for Russian and international investors after the St. Petersburg Economic Forum, which is traditionally held in May.

This year, the Sochi forum will be held in the Olympic Park, which was the venue of key Olympic events, including the opening closing ceremonies of the Winter Games 2014.

The forum is traditionally attended a large number of delegations from Russian regions, which present their projects for domestic and foreign investors. In conditions of slowing economic growth, some regions are managing to retain relatively high growth dynamics.

Thus, the Kaluga region in central European Russia, one of the most successful Russian regions in terms of attracting foreign investments, plans to attain a growth of four percent in 2014 and keep this pace in the coming year. According to estimates of the World Economic Forum experts, Russian regions may become a driving force for Russian economic growth.

In 2014, the forum will be for the first time attended by a delegation from Crime, which will present 28 investment projects worth about 79 billion roubles (2 billion U.S. dollars). Such projects include an amusement park in Simferopol and a number of industrial and agricultural projects.

As a part of the gastronomical programme, seven leading wineries of the Krasnodar Krai will present their products within the Wines of Kuban festival. The cultural programme will feature a Czar Jazz international festival and a concert of British star Chris Rea, who will sing with the Kuban Cossack Choir.

Organizers have promised to make public the exact number of the forum participants at the opening ceremony. However, according to available information, organizers received more than 5,000 applications from government officials, businessmen anf journalists.

In 2013, more than 9,000 guests, including 325 from 42 foreign states, took part in the Sochi forum.