Upcoming Eastern Economic Forum (EEF) focuses on greater Russian and Asia-Pacific links. This year India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the Chief Guest. The EEF has become the biggest international platform for discussing the strategy for developing political, economic and cultural ties between Russia and Asia Pacific.

THE port city of Vladivostok is gearing up for the fifth edition of the EFF which will be held between 4 to 6 September 2019 (www.forumvostok.ru). Government, institutions, private sector and students are all working together to make the annual Forum a great success.

The EEF started in 2015 and was initiated by Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. It was intended to support the economic development of Russia’s Far East region and expand international cooperation with countries in the Asia-Pacific while attracting investments into the Far East region.

Over the last few years, the EEF has increased in its importance and reach. “This year the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, will be attending the Forum as the Chief Guest at the invitation of the President and we are expecting over 7,000 guests to attend the forum,” informed Mr A. Klimov, Deputy Secretary of the General Council of the United Russia Party. A high level delegation from Singapore will attend headed by Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam who will also be going to the Russia-Singapore Inter-Governmental Commission on 6th Sept 2019.


Round Table Discussion
At a Round Table discussion organised in July this year, members of the international press met: Mr V. Shcherbina (First Deputy Governor of the Primorsky Territory), Mr A. Rolik (Chairman of the Legislative Assembly of the Primorsky Territory), Mr G. Kuranov (Deputy Plenipotentiary Representative of the President of the Russian Federation in the Far Eastern Federal District), Mr A Klimov, Mr S.Tyrtsev (First Deputy Minister for the development of the Russian Far East), S. Sopchuk (Head of the Far Eastern Interregional Coordination Council of the United Russia Party) and representatives of the district leadership; they discussed the international cooperation and development of the Far Eastern Federal District and the Arctic; they also briefed the visiting press on the upcoming Forum.

The Venue – Vladivostok
The city of Vladivostok is the administrative centre of the Far Eastern Federal District and Primorsky Krai, Russia. Located around the Golden Horn Bay, it is just next to Russia’s neighbours China and North Korea. Branded as the Gateway to Europe, its proximity to Asia makes it a great draw for Asian tourists. “Asian culture influences us a lot at Vladivostok; we are very far from Moscow, and we are developing very fast; our infrastructure and educational institutions such as the Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU) are creating more options for students from Vladivostok and those in the countries around,” briefed the FEFU student liaison Andrey Bryansky.

Mr Igor E. Khrushchev, the Director at the Ministry of Transport of the Russian Federation started his career as a seaman and has been a witness to the changing face and opportunities at the Russian Far East. He is a man in a hurry to catch up on lost time. “Asia is our logical partner as we are in close proximity to each other and there are many unexplored areas of collaboration which if tapped, can enhance prosperity for the people in Asia and Russia”.

Reminiscent of Vladivostok’s historic past, the city is an important military port as the headquarters of the Russian Navy Pacific Fleet. At the same time, Vladivostok also offers several tourist attractions that attract visitors from many neighbouring countries such as China, Japan and Korea. They are seen in droves clicking selfies to bring home memories. There are also plentiful concerts and performances more so in the summer months for both the young and old.

Main Industries
Not surprisingly the main industries here are fishing and shipping. The main imports are food products, clothing, fashion accessories, footwear, medicines, automobiles, household items and ships. Vladivostok exports fish, timber, metals and ships – its Zvevda Shipbuilding Complex boasts of state-of-the-art shipbuilding facilities.

It is also the end terminus point of the Trans-Siberian Railway network which is almost 9,300 km long to Moscow. A report in July 2019 stated Russian Railways’ plan to raise the annual transport capacity of the Trans-Siberian Railway by 50% to 180 million tons. It has already invested more than US$745 million in 2018 working to lay double tracks along the railway and to automate the transport system. The plan is to lay tracks directly linked to ports in the Far East.

Vladivostok is currently ranked fourth in terms of railway’s cargo turnover and was the first to be awarded the free port status (enjoying light customs and taxes regimes) of the Far East.  The Free Port regime is now active in five regions of the Russian Far East. There is tremendous scope for development of hotels and logistics, with the development of tourism and obvious openness. Russia’s Far East is a far cry from its reputation as an “enigma,” where the people are warm and friendly, fruits fresh and juicy, opportunity plenty and untapped. It is certainly worth a trip to study and develop links.

SBF MISSION IN SEPTEMBER The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) is also planning to send a high-level business mission to Vladivostok from 3rd to 6th September 2019. The mission is to help delegates gain a better understanding of the market dynamics and emerging sectors as well as establish business and official contacts. For details visit www.sbf.org.sg