Eastern Economic Forum: the East is bright (by Ambassador Alexander Yakovenko)

When talking about Russia’s Far East, you invariably remember its stunning natural beauty, abundance in natural resources and vast territories. But when one thinks of its investments prospects, you also invariably remember its harsh climate, low average population density and the lack of transport and other infrastructure.

But now the situation is changing fundamentally. The region is undergoing a huge and qualitative revival. The development of the region has been declared one of the national priorities for Russia. In the last 5 years 18 advanced development zones and 5 free ports have been established in the Russian Far East. Long-term tax exemptions have been provided for large investment projects. Paperless e-visas for visitors of Vladivostok are available for citizens of 18 countries.The results are visible. During the last 3 years over $60 bln of investments have been attracted to 1300 projects in the Far East. The investment growth rate reached 17% in 2017 while the average for Russia was 4,4%. Asian and Pacific countries’ share in Russia’s foreign trade has increased from one fifth in 2013 to one third in 2017. The inflow of foreign direct investment in the Far East has leapfrogged by 15 times and now constitute 30% of all FDIs in Russia.

But how do you join in? There is one comfortable way. The 4th Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) will take place on the 11-13th of September 2018 in the city of Vladivostok, with the motto «The Russian Far East: Expanding the Range of Opportunities».

The Forum, launched in 2015, at once became one of the key platforms for Russia, its eastern and western partners for open discussions on the challenges facing the Far East and the world, promotion of edge-cutting technologies and profitable deal-making by attracting investments. The EEF gives the floor to all players — from students, academics and scientists through owners of small and medium enterprises to the CEOs of huge corporations and political leaders. In 2015 the volume of deals concluded amounted to “barely” $20 bln. Last year EEF hosted over 6000 people from over 60 countries. 217 commercial contracts totaling $44bln were signed. That has led to the creation of 70000 jobs at the existing and 35 new enterprises in 2017-2018.

This year we expect up to 7000 participants, expected to sign investment deals for over $60 bln. They will represent countries from all over the world, including China (represented by President Xi Jinping), Japan (represented by PM Shinzo Abe), India, France, UK, Switzerland, US, Canada, South Africa.This year’s Forum will focus on four key areas: economic development through advanced special economic zones and the Free Port of Vladivostok, supporting the priority industries of the region (timber, agriculture, fisheries and mariculture, oil and gas extracting and refining, tourism, port infrastructure, mining and refining of solid minerals), economic cooperation between Russia’s Far East and the neighboring countries, and improving living conditions in the Russian Far East.Russia’s focus on the Far East corresponds to the global trend of the eastwards shifting of the centre of development. A timely entry will ensure a maximum of profits in the future. Russia is ready to open this window of opportunities to all the actors interested in mutually beneficial partnership. And we will be glad to welcome all the like-minded partners at the forth Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok!