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

The Roscongress Foundation is a socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organizer of international conventions; exhibitions; and business, public, 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, and 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 5000 people working in Russia and abroad. In addition, it works in close cooperation with 159 economic partners; industrialists’ and entrepreneurs’ unions; and financial, trade, and business associations from 75 countries worldwide.

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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Eurasian Regional Partnership in the Post-COVID Era
3 June 2021
17:00—18:15
KEY CONCLUSIONS
The COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying cooperation between Eurasian partner countries

You know, any crisis is also an opportunity. And when we are talking about close people and close countries, any misfortune nevertheless brings us closer. I can simply see this as a member of the [Eurasian Economic Commission] Council, how all of us Council members quickly grouped together and began specifically solving the problems that primarily aimed to protect our people and our countries. We took very rapid and effective decisions, which truly enabled us to provide people with personal protective equipment very quickly, and we took decisions related to the import of the appropriate medical materials and equipment. We quickly approved long lists so that all of this would enter our market as soon as possible and with the fewest number of obstacles and be available to our people — Alexey Overchuk, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation.

You know that India has historical ties with the [Eurasian] Economic Union. You know that we have great ties with the people of your countries. COVID, of course, dealt a massive blow to the economic ties of our countries, but we understand that, despite this, we have found opportunities to overcome these difficulties and continue cooperation with partners in the Eurasian region. I want to thank you for such a fruitful dialogue in your group. I believe that we share common points of view and we understand that partnership is extremely important for us [...] As for our cooperation with the Union, you know that our cooperation is estimated at several billion dollars, and over the past year it increased by 57% — Anup Wadhawan, Commerce Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of India.

Despite the measures that have been taken, we believe it will be very difficult to get out of this situation alone. And I agree with you and your opinion that we have not yet entered the post-COVID period [...] I’m also not pessimistic about the future and, of course, I believe that the future will mainly depend on the level of cooperation. Azerbaijan is not a member of the Eurasian Economic Union, but due to its geographical location, economic potential, and history, it is an important participant in this cooperation — Shahin Mustafayev, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

If we are talking about the trade policy of the Eurasian Economic Union, then, despite the entire existing multi-vector relationship to globalization, to put it mildly, that we have seen recently in the world, the Eurasian Economic Union has consistently demonstrated its commitment, if not to globalization, then to regionalization. And the provisional agreement that we managed to reach with Iran in the pre-COVID period really works. We see an increase in our trade figures with Iran in exports during the COVID period, and this is precisely the comfortable norm that exists. And I am extremely happy that negotiations from the provisional agreement are moving into negotiations on a permanent free trade zone. The negotiations that are underway with India and the negotiations between Iran and Azerbaijan on free trade are what shapes a regime that consistently allows us and our exporters to say that everything should be good and stable at least in the region — Veronika Nikishina, Chief Executive Officer, Russian Export Centre.

As for integration itself – I’m not referring to the economy and medical sectors – it seems to me that our Eurasian integration has been sick with COVID overall or will be sick in a relatively mild form […] What opportunities are being created during COVID? I would highlight three points. First, of course, we are all waiting for the soonest possible decision to lift the latest package of suffocating sanctions against Iran, and this, of course, will open up new trade opportunities for us as neighbours — Andrey Slepnev, Minister of Trade, Eurasian Economic Commission (Russia).

Well-developed transport corridors are crucial for regional cooperation

Of course, we are active participants in the programmes and arrangements for crossings and, shall we say, the interlocking of these sections, which must be completed for the main transport routes. As an example, I can point out that literally this morning we opened a newly equipped cargo-passenger crossing here in St. Petersburg at the St. Petersburg port, which was equipped and modernized as part of the cross-border cooperation programme [...] I think that Russia, of course, also plays a very important and sometimes proactive role here in the corridors that were called ‘North-South’ and ‘East-West’ in this case in order for all this to happen as quickly as possible — Dmitry Volvach, Deputy Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.

Azerbaijan is looking ahead and planning its future as part of a common integrated region in the South Caucasus. In particular, transport projects are among the most important issues. I would like to remind you about the statement made by the leaders of Azerbaijan, Russia, and Armenia on 9–10 November last year and 11 January this year based on which all economic transport links in the region should be unblocked and the construction of new transport communications should be ensured. We believe that this is in the interests of all the countries of the South Caucasus. We believe that it is in the interests of our closest neighbours and partners, meaning Russia, Iran, and Turkey. We believe that it will be truly beneficial for all countries — Shahin Mustafayev, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

I can say that improving logistics and efficiency and eliminating logistical difficulties will certainly have a beneficial effect on all the parties involved in the process. As for the [COVID-19] pandemic, we can say that the supply of medicines and pharmaceuticals has not decreased throughout this time. India has been able to supply such important drugs to all of its partner countries, including antibiotics. I would like to say that our partnership is expanding in the COVID era despite the existing difficulties — Anup Wadhawan, Commerce Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of India.

ISSUES
Sanctions and the creation of vaccine spaces

The war being waged by the United States using sanctions is a war without rules [...] If sanctions are going to be used in the battle between countries, we, the EAEU countries, and countries such as India and Azerbaijan should apply to the UN organization in order to introduce rules regarding these sanctions […] War cannot be one-sided. In addition to what I said, we still view sanctions and the conditions in which we are currently in as conditions that we can use to our advantage for the development of transit with the EAEU, India, Azerbaijan, and China. This could be a great opportunity. The Islamic Republic of Iran declares its readiness to develop trade in this direction. I hope that we will also strengthen our ties — Hamid Zadboom, Deputy Minister of Industry, Mines and Trade of the Islamic Republic of Iran; Head, Trade Promotion Organization of Iran (TPOI).

It is crucial that there be no vaccine spaces, i.e., there is mutual recognition. If people get a vaccine somewhere, they should probably all be recognized [...] But if there is no recognition, it’s very difficult to talk about relationships, tourism, the economy — Kairat Kelimbetov, Manager of the ‘Astana’ International Financial Centre.

In general, if we are talking about the North-South dimension, I find it difficult to imagine the practice of sanctions in relation to any pair of partners or that we would start imposing politically motivated sanctions against each other. Here we are all unanimous that this is not the right instrument, and clearly this is not our way of interaction — Andrey Slepnev, Minister of Trade, Eurasian Economic Commission (Russia).

Failure to comply with contractual obligations and rising food prices

A problem that has emerged here, and just like in any crisis, and this was a real crisis, and in fact, we still see these trends continuing, is rising food prices. In any crisis, people always begin to fear that there will be a shortage of something and naturally start buying it up for future use. This, of course, pushes prices up — Alexey Overchuk, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation.

Of course, the world has changed. Of course, we cannot say that we have moved into the post-COVID period. We remember well what kind of panic dominated a year ago. We remember that countries closed their borders, and now many borders are still closed. The borders were closed even for freight traffic, and that was the worst thing. We remember that contractual obligations were not fulfilled. Alas, sometimes even paid contracts were not fulfilled [...] And as the esteemed [Deputy Prime Minister Alexey] Overchuk said, this has all had an impact on prices, especially for food — Shahin Mustafayev, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

SOLUTIONS
Development of the North-South corridor

As regards the transport component or transport connectivity, Kazakhstan is right at the crossroads of all routes: North-South and East-West [...] There will still be interaction between the European Union and China. It is clear that most of the goods will be delivered by sea, but some part will also be delivered by land, so Kazakhstan has carried out a lot of work […] both in the North-South and West-East directions. We have built a very high-quality autobahn to the border with the Russian Federation. Now we are waiting for the Russian Federation to build good roads from Moscow to Kazan and Yekaterinburg. And this will already connect the border with China to the Baltic ports — Kairat Kelimbetov, Manager of the ‘Astana’ International Financial Centre.

If we take into account that the development of communication cooperation is very important for the development of trade and economic relations, from this standpoint, Azerbaijan’s geographical location and economic potential create an opportunity for Azerbaijan’s cooperation with neighbouring countries and Eurasian countries to yield results […] One of the routes of the North-South transit corridors passes through the territory of Azerbaijan […] Azerbaijan is doing a lot to develop and promote this corridor [...] Despite the situation that has developed over the past year, we have not suspended transit traffic through our country for a single day […] Over the past year – the year of COVID – transit traffic increased by 19% compared with the previous year. This is cooperation. I think that such cooperation will result in us achieving the best indicators and ultimately winning this struggle — Shahin Mustafayev, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The world is developing and new opportunities are arising. And the biggest issue in this regard is the further development of these opportunities in addition to problems in the development of transport infrastructure, which would support the corresponding commodity flows in the North-South direction. We have been discussing this problem with Azerbaijan for a long time as part of an intergovernmental commission in terms of creating the best conditions for the movement of goods in the North-South corridor. Azerbaijan is doing a lot in terms of building its road infrastructure — Alexey Overchuk, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation.

Digitalization of the North-South corridor

We, the Russian Export Centre, act not only as an assistant to our exporters in terms of specific measures. We also create an environment in which exporters can continue to do business comfortably without government assistance […] if once again we’re talking about the North-South corridor and the infrastructure that we will have once it is built properly. Trains will use it. It’s essential that the speed of these trains greatly depends on how well the regulatory authorities will work: customs, veterinary, and phytosanitary [...] We really must now put a new meaning into these ‘green corridors’, make them digital, and seamlessly integrate the information systems of states — Veronika Nikishina, Chief Executive Officer, Russian Export Centre.

Infrastructure, of course. And not only physical infrastructure, but digitalization and digital transport corridors. The Eurasian Commission is now working in this direction with China. We already have a roadmap that is in the process of being endorsed. Of course, we need to fully extend all these developments to the North-South corridor so that there is complete digitalization without paperwork. The experience is in place. Russia and Finland are transporting more than 16 million tonnes, and 86% of that is fully paperless. And this is a working arrangement — Andrey Slepnev, Minister of Trade, Eurasian Economic Commission (Russia).