A socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organizer of nationwide and international conventions; exhibitions; and business, public, youth, sporting, and cultural events.

The Roscongress Foundation is a socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organizer of nationwide and international conventions; exhibitions; and business, public, youth, sporting, and cultural events. It was established in pursuance of a decision by the President of the Russian Federation.

The Foundation was established in 2007 with the aim of facilitating the development of Russia’s economic potential, promoting its national interests, and strengthening the country’s image. One of the roles of the Foundation is to comprehensively evaluate, analyse, and cover issues on the Russian and global economic agendas. It also offers administrative services, provides promotional support for business projects and attracting investment, helps foster social entrepreneurship and charitable initiatives.

Each year, the Foundation’s events draw participants from 208 countries and territories, with more than 15,000 media representatives working on-site at Roscongress’ various venues. The Foundation benefits from analytical and professional expertise provided by 5,000 people working in Russia and abroad.

The Foundation works alongside various UN departments and other international organizations, and is building multi-format cooperation with 166 economic partners, including industrialists’ and entrepreneurs’ unions, financial, trade, and business associations from 76 countries worldwide, and 154 Russian public organizations, federal and legislative agencies, and federal subjects.

The Roscongress Foundation has Telegram channels in Russian t.me/Roscongress, English – t.me/RoscongressDirect, and Spanish t.me/RoscongressEsp. Official website and Information and Analytical System of the Roscongress Foundation: roscongress.org.

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According to World Bank economists, real GDP growth in Russia surpassed expectations in 2018, reaching 2.3 percent, mostly due to one-off effects of energy construction. Relatively high levels of international reserves, a relatively low external debt and a flexible exchange rate regime helped Russia limit exposure to external volatility and absorb external shocks. Higher oil prices, combined with a weaker ruble, better tax administration, and a conservative fiscal policy further improved fiscal balances at all levels of the budget system in 2018. New development goals announced by the President in May 2018 have led to the shaping of 13 national projects, which total 25.7 trillion rubles (about USD 390 billion, or about 2.8 to 3.2 percent of GDP annually) for 2019–2024.

Consumer price inflation, at 5.1 percent in May, exceeded the CBR’s target of 4 percent in annual terms since the beginning of 2019, when it experienced the most intense VAT pass-through effect. Unemployment declined further in the first quarter of 2019 to a current 4.8 percent. When compared to advanced economies, Russia spends less on health and education. Rebalancing in favor of these categories could improve the overall efficiency of public spending.

Forecasted growth of 1.2 percent in 2019 and 1.8 percent in 2020 and 2021 reflects a modest outlook. Russia’s macro-fiscal buffers remain strong, with fiscal surpluses across all tiers of government and low public-debt levels.

The outlook is subject to risks. Key risks to medium-term growth include the expansion of economic sanctions, renewed financial turmoil in EMDEs, a dramatic drop in oil prices, and souring of the global trade environment. The recent double-digit expansion in household credit may also pose a risk to financial stability in the case of a deterioration in the macroeconomic environment. Short-term inflationary risks have abated, with the Bank of Russia signaling a return to a neutral policy rate. Lending activity is recovering, but the banking sector remains afflicted with high concentration and state dominance.

Having eased slightly, the poverty rate remains in double digits with many households close to the poverty line and lacking formal employment. Stable economic growth, wage growth in the private sector, and the indexation of pensions to inflation should support disposable incomes and contribute to a gradual decline in the poverty rate in 2019–2021.

This edition’s special section focuses on the spread of informal employment in Russia and possible measures to address it. According to World Bank’s data, informal employment is rising in Russia in the face of close-to-zero net job creation by medium-sized and large formal enterprises. The share of informal employment is estimated to range between 15.1 and 21.2 percent. At the same time, Russia’s share of informal employment is not that high when compared to other middle-income countries.

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