The St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, running from June 16-18, offers an extraordinary view of where the world is going very soon, if Obama is prevented from blowing it up first. It links together Europe, Eurasia, and every part of Asia, as well as Africa and South America.
As we have noted, Europe is heavily represented despite the sanctions. Italian Prime Minister Renzi is meeting with Putin and is present with a very high-level business delegation, which is reported to have signed $1.4 billion in agreements with Russia. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is there, as are former French President Sarkozy and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon. Six leaders of big German firms are speaking in a panel on German-Russian cooperation, along with EU Commissioner Gunther Oettinger; Germany’s top Russia expert, Alexander Rahr, is featured on another panel. A panel on Russia-Switzerland cooperation includes top corporate officials and an official of the Swiss Foreign Ministry; this occurs just as the Swiss government is moving to withdraw the nation’s 1992 application to join the EU, after a vote to that effect by both houses of the Swiss Parliament.
Some top Chinese businessmen are featured in the opening panels on the Group of 20 and another panel on China’s “New Economic Model.” A Russia-Africa panel includes the President of Guinea and ministers from four other African nations. A Russia-Japan panel includes six senior business executives and a vice-minister. A Panel “Russia-India: A New Stage in Economic Partnership,” includes four top Indian executives. There are two panels on Russia-Latin America cooperation, which together represent most South American nations. There is a BRICS panel with businessmen from every member nation; a Eurasian Economic Union panel; and a panel of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Business Forum. An Iran panel is titled “Life After Sanctions: Re-Integrating Iran into the Global Economy.”
The final panel is on “Russia-Bangladesh: An Era of New Opportunities.”
The principal US representative in St. Petersburg is the Chairman-CEO of ExxonMobil.