MOSCOW, September 11. /TASS/. Russia’s annual Eastern Economic Forum opens in Vladivostok to expectations of record-breaking Asia-based deals; the New Delhi G20 summit’s final statement urges countries to focus on seeking collaborative, multilateral solutions to global problems, eschew protectionism; and Armenia begins military drills with US forces despite Moscow’s displeasure at wayward CSTO ally. These stories topped Monday’s newspaper headlines across Russia.
The VIII Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) is being held on Vladivostok’s Russky Island on September 10-13. About 4,000 participants and media representatives from more than 50 countries are expected to attend the event, with China, India, the United Arab Emirates and Myanmar fielding the largest delegations. According to analysts interviewed by Izvestia, the forum's agenda will be comprehensive, covering both domestic Russian and external economic issues. Experts believe that a record number of deal agreements with partners from Asian countries will be signed at this year’s EEF.
Every year the Eastern Economic Forum attracts a large number of government and business representatives, Vladimir Klimanov, PhD in Economics, associate professor and director of the Center for Regional Policy at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) Institute of Applied Economic Research, told the newspaper. "This year, due to the greater focus on the East that has emerged in the country's economy, the agenda for discussions will be extensive, on both internal domestic and external issues," he said.
According to Egor Klopenko, head of Itleaders, the forum has become one of the most important economic platforms for Russia given the clear shift in focus from the West to the East. "This year, a record number of agreements with Asian countries will be signed at the forum," he predicted.
"The world is waiting for an escalation of the political conflict between the United States and China. Against this backdrop, the economy has been pushed to the margins of the agenda. Nevertheless, the meeting will focus on the most pressing challenges, such as the development of the Northern Sea Route. Given Russia's ongoing shift to the East, we can expect a high volume of joint transactions to continue," Agvan Mikaelyan, a board of directors’ member in the FinExpertiza audit and consulting network, told the newspaper.
The event opens new opportunities for the market and business, especially at the international level, Anderida Financial Group founder Alexey Tarapovsky told Izvestia. According to him, in 2022 contracts worth 3.2 trln rubles ($32.97 bln) were signed, a figure that is expected to be matched at this year’s forum.
The key economic takeaway from the two-day G20 summit, which wrapped up on September 10 in New Delhi, was the declaration of the importance of maintaining a "multilateral" approach to solving global problems, from food security to climate regulation, including a call to fully factor in the unique economic development characteristics of each country. The G20 leaders also called for reforming the World Trade Organization (WTO), with the summit’s final statement underscoring the need to maintain an open trade system and fight protectionism, despite the current trend in world trade toward a more pronounced segmentation into blocs of like-minded countries, Kommersant writes.
The G20 final statement, which was unanimously supported by all countries, warned of the risks of a global economic slowdown and a reversal of progress toward "sustainable" development goals. While the G20 is not a forum for resolving geopolitical differences, the latter can have a significant impact on the global economy and long-term economic prospects, the statement said. At the same time, the G20 stressed the importance of an "open and transparent" trading system with the WTO "at its center," as well as the need to resist protectionism and anti-market policies.
Following in the footsteps of the BRICS group, the G20 also expanded its membership at this year’s summit, with the African Union (representing 55 African countries) becoming the 21st member of the organization.
Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP) Executive Director Sergey Mikhnevich emphasized the importance of reviving multilateralism in international cooperation, thus making the unanimously adopted text of the final declaration a significant achievement in the current environment.
The expert noted that a broader interpretation of ensuring food security is also relevant for Russia, with a focus not just on supplies of food and fertilizers, but also on other key components of ensuring food security, such as delivery logistics and the processing and preparation of agricultural products.
Eagle Partner, the Armenian-US military peacekeeping exercise, will kick off its inaugural drills on September 11 at the Zar and Armavir training areas outside of Yerevan. "Blue helmet" peacekeeping operations under the aegis of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) had also been planned to take place in Armenia around the same time, but Yerevan refused to hold them and recently also recalled Viktor Biyagov from his post as the Armenian permanent and plenipotentiary representative to the CSTO, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes. Meanwhile, the CSTO's Indestructible Brotherhood 2023 drills will be held in Kyrgyzstan in October without Armenia’s participation.
Officials in Moscow have already expressed their displeasure with these and other anti-Moscow actions by Yerevan. At the same time, it is difficult to gauge the actual level of readiness of Yerevan’s new-found partners from the United States and NATO, along with Armenia’s own "blue helmets," to carry out peacekeeping missions in other parts of the world, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes, noting that in any case this is unlikely to happen in the South Caucasus in the near future. Meanwhile, media and officials in many countries have reported an increase in tensions over the Nagorno-Karabakh region in the past week or two.
"Despite Yerevan's unfriendly actions, Russia's role in the South Caucasus in the Karabakh conflict zone remains at a consistently high level and of a decisive nature, thanks to the presence of a contingent of Russian peacekeepers there," military expert Lieutenant General Yuri Netkachev told the newspaper.
"Not only Russia, but also Iran, which does not want to redraw borders in the South Caucasus and wants to resolve such issues through negotiations, can prevent a new war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. As for future US or NATO involvement in the Karabakh conflict, it is unlikely. Iran and Russia will not allow it, including the use of military means," the expert noted.
On the sidelines of the G20 summit in New Delhi on September 9, US President Joe Biden declared his administration’s goal of establishing an international rail and maritime corridor linking India, the Middle East and Europe, to be called the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC), Vedomosti writes. IMEC is aimed at promoting economic development by expanding links and integration between Asia, the Persian Gulf states and Europe, according to the White House.
The proposal envisions two alternative corridors: one linking India by sea to the Persian Gulf in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and the other linking the Persian Gulf from the UAE by land through Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Israel, and then by sea to Greece.
At the moment, this ostensibly economic project appears to be driven more by political goals, not least because its implementation would require significant investment in the development of new infrastructure, according to Infoline Analytics General Director Mikhail Burmistrov. "Even without considering geopolitical risks, the infrastructure would take years to build; the design work alone would take at least two years," Burmistrov told the newspaper.
Moreover, the value to participating countries is unclear because they currently use the Suez Canal and it is generally more convenient for them to operate through maritime channels, Gleb Makarevich, junior researcher at the Center for the Indian Ocean Region at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Primakov Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO RAS), said.
African countries, such as Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), are trying to pursue multi-oriented foreign policies, and thus may be interested in participating in the US-led project, Andrey Maslov, director of the Center for African Studies at the Higher School of Economics (HSE University), told Vedomosti. "The United States’ position in East Africa is weak, and so Washington will try to counter Beijing [and its strong influence in the region], including through interacting with India," Maslov added. At the same time, the expert noted, the prospects for an African Corridor as part of the IMEC project remain bleak due to sharp disparities in the development of the region's infrastructure.
The Russian IT market, encompassing software, development services and technical support services, as well as equipment, is expected to grow from 3 trln rubles ($31.01 bln) in 2023 to 7 trln rubles ($72.38 bln) in 2030. At the same time, the equipment market will reach 4.2 trln rubles ($43.43 bln), while the IT services and software segment will account for 2.8 trln rubles ($28.95 bln). The market share held by domestic developers in various segments will increase from 50% in 2023 to fully 90% by 2030, Vedomosti writes, citing a report by experts from Strategy Partners.
According to the report, Russia’s IT market has grown more than twice as fast as the global industry over the past four years, expanding by 12% per year against 5% in dollar terms. The software and IT services segment grew faster than other segments at an average annual growth rate of 19.4% from 2019 to 2022. At the same time, sales of Russian IT companies are expected to continue growing in 2022, while software sales by foreign vendors in Russia are expected to decline sharply.
Lyudmila Bogatyreva, head of the Digital Solutions Department at the Polylog Agency, told Vedomosti that the fastest growth will be seen among those domestic Russian software solutions for which the imported analogues have been banned. "This includes, first of all, information security tools: Russian cybersecurity solutions are breaking all domestic sales records. We should also not forget their export expansion to the Middle East and BRICS countries," she told the newspaper.
The sudden exit in 2022 by the bulk of international IT vendors that had dominated the Russian market revealed the potential for long-term growth for Russian infrastructure software developers, as well as the potential "to export their products to friendly countries where the demand for solutions to replace legacy systems from Western vendors is growing," according to Roman Tinyaev, director of Strategy Partners.
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