Russian Economic Forum shows largest attendance ever

Members of the Russian business community and UK politicians are meeting in London for the 10th annual Russian Economic Forum. Organisers claim it is the largest attendance ever, which is around 2,500 people this year.

Topics on discussion at the Forum are mainly Russia's political and economic development and the country's business environment.

“I think the fundamental relationship between our two countries is good, it is strong,” Alistair Darling, UK Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, noted. “We are the largest foreign investor in Russia,” he added. “Whatever the political ups and downs are, we ought to sort them out and make sure that we create the right climate for business to flourish,” Mr Darling stressed.

The atmosphere surrounding this meeting has been affected by media reports that some key Russian officials pulled out of the programme. Some even called it a ‘partial boycott’ blaming it on rising political tensions between London and Moscow.

“People are coming here, paying money to mix with government officials and chief executive officers of state companies because they can not get hold of them in Moscow. If it is not the availability and opportunity, the whole idea has to be changed,” Igor Yurgens, Executive Secretary, Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, said.

Some say the forum has lost its former significance for top Russian officials, largely because Russia already feels integrated into the world economy, but this does not appear to have put off too many. Organizers claim it has the largest attendance ever, and as for the business climate, it still seems positive and warm.

“Russia we see today is not Russia we knew 10 years ago,” Jean Lemierre, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, pointed out. “From the investment point of view, from business viewpoint, the growth is there, international debt is paid back. At the same time there are new challenges and new opportunities: to invest, to support the diversification of the economy in all the sectors. It is growing quite quickly, especially in the regions, not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg,” he said.

Russian companies are making their presence felt around the world through foreign investment and initial public offerings (IPOs) with leading enterprises developing into strong international brands.

The participants of the 10th Economic Forum in London agree that those who are already in Russia and have made considerable investments will continue to expand. As for those who have fears about Russia seem keen to learn more. Some are already looking forward to the International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg in June. The more you know about Russia, they say at the Forum, the better you know how to manage your funds.