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Monday, January 22, 2018

Ukrainian crisis casts shadow over St. Petersburg Economic Forum

The U.S.-Russia Business Council (USRBC) recently told participating members that there was a subdued mood at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum as participants focused on developments in Ukraine and Russia's economic downturn.

Fewer heads of major international companies attended this year's forum--146 compared to 176 last year--and there was a significant decline in the number of U.S. CEOs who were there this year, the USRBC said in a memo on its website.

In his opening remarks, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the Eurasian Economic Union would operate "in accordance with World Trade Organization rules" and that there is a "mutual dependence" among Russia, Europe and the U.S., making it impossible to isolate Moscow through sanctions.

USRBC members who were in attendance said their European counterparts were vigorously opposed to sanctions and questioned U.S. companies about how they could be seen as reliable suppliers given American actions on sanctions, according to the USRBC.

Participants also discussed ongoing challenges, including economic restructuring, infrastructure development, technological modernization and the prevalence of corruption.