This year, the Saint Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) was held from 2 to 5 June and became the first event of this magnitude in the world since the beginning of the pandemic, although the number of in-person participants was limited to 5 thousand people. What new points of contact have Latin American countries found with Russia? What was the Latin American region looking for in St. Petersburg?
This year the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum became the first large-scale business event after the forced break in face-to-face events due to the pandemic. On the sidelines of the SPIEF, intercountry dialogues were held with representatives of the business communities of Africa, Germany, Italy, Qatar, Latin America, North America, Finland, France, Sweden, Japan, as well as the EAEU-ASEAN dialogue. The SPIEF business program included over 130 expert discussions and covered a wide range of topics in the development of various areas of the economy.
What guests from Latin American countries were received in St. Petersburg? What agreements have the regional actors reached with Russia? One of the key topics of the representatives of the Russian government and the business community with the Latin American participants of the Forum was the supply of the “Sputnik V” vaccine to the countries of the region. In his speech, the head of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision (Rosselkhoznadzor) Sergey Dankvert noted that the registration of the Russian drug showed that a lot is politicized in this process, in addition, there are own interests.
The head of “Rosselkhoznadzor” stressed that the Russian agency that regulates drug certification is working very carefully, looking around. It has established relations with the Institute N.F. Gamaleya, with the Russian Investment Fund regarding the vaccination and vaccine “Sputnik”. In turn, for example, Fernando Castro Márquez, President of the Brazilian company “Uniao Quimica Farmaceutica Nacional S.A.” explained in his statement: “We have already started production activities with regard to the production of the vaccine itself; prepared for the release of a rather large batch of this vaccine in order to use it not only in our country, but also to export it to various countries of Latin America”.
Another important topic of Russia’s dialogue with representatives of Latin America was the development of trade relations. As Sergey Dankvert emphasized in his speech, “trade with the countries of Latin and Central America is not showing great progress: a worthy place in our markets, but this, despite our expectations, did not happen. We expected that large deliveries of fruits would come from Latin America, but these deliveries also remained at the traditional level. I think a number of factors played a role here: our purchasing power is not what it was in 2013 and 2014. At the same time, I think that insufficient initiative played a role…Latin American countries did not reorient themselves in time to the fact that Russia would develop in agriculture. This year, the total number of supplied products is increasing”. In addition, Sergey Glazyev, Member of the Board (Minister) for Integration and Macroeconomics of the Eurasian Economic Commission, took part in the discussion. He noted the existence of a great potential of Russian-Latin American trade relations, nevertheless pointed out that “there are two barriers that business must overcome …geography…lack of information – in Russia is known very little about Latin America, in Latin America maybe they know a little more about Russia, but they know very little in general about other states of the Eurasian Economic Union”.
Referring to trade cooperation, Ambassador of the Republic of Peru Juan Genaro del Campo Rodriguez said on the sidelines of the SPIEF that trade ties between Russia and his country are expanding rapidly and have great potential for further growth. According to the Peruvian diplomat, agricultural exports from Peru increased by 89% last year. As an example of the growing trade turnover, Del Campo Rodriguez cited the export of avocados from Peru to Russia. In 2018, sales of avocados on the Russian market were at the level of 3.4-3.5 thousand tons. In 2019, they reached the level of 7.6 thousand, and in 2020, at the height of the pandemic, up to 14.4 thousand tons. Last year, Peru became the main exporter of avocados for Russia; the Latin American country managed to squeeze even Israel, the traditional world supplier of this product. The Ambassador of Peru summed up that in Russia it seems possible to carry out activities limited to other parts of the world, which allowed the Peruvian representative office to take part in such events as the Coffee and Cocoa Fair, as well as the “ProdExpo” Industrial Fair, where food products from the South American countries.
On the sidelines of the SPIEF, a number of agreements were reached between major Russian companies and Latin American guests and various agreements were signed in the field of trade, pharmaceuticals, medicine, agriculture, energy and others. For example, on June 4, the vaccine manufacturer “EpiVacCorona”, “Geropharm”, signed an agreement to supply its drug to Venezuela and Brazil. Venezuela will become the first foreign country where “EpiVacCorona” will be available for large-scale vaccination of the population in order to prevent coronavirus infection COVID-19. The volume of supplies may amount to 5 million sets (10 million doses) by the end of the year. It is planned to start shipping in September. In addition, “Geropharm”signed an agreement with the Brazilian company “Uniao Quimica Farmaceutica Nacional S.A.” Its subject is promising cooperation in the field of registration and supply of insulins with possible localization of their production, as well as import of the “EpiVacCorona” vaccine.
Within the framework of the Forum, the Russian energy company “Gazprom” continued negotiations with its foreign partners. In particular, Alexey Miller held a working meeting with the Minister of Hydrocarbons and Energy of Bolivia, Franklin Molina Ortiz. During the meeting, the parties discussed the implementation of current and promising projects in the South American country and the development of a general scheme for the development of the country’s gas industry. In 2018, “Gazprom” and the Bolivian State Oil and Gas Company “Yacimientos Petroliferos Fiscales Bolivianos” (YPFB) signed a strategic cooperation agreement. At the moment, the Russian company “Gazprom” in partnership with “TotalEnergies” (50%, operator of the project), “Tecpetrol S.A.” (20%) and “YPFB” (10%) are involved in projects for the development of promising oil and gas bearing areas Ipati y Aquio, on the territory of which the Incahuasi field has been discovered. Since the beginning of 2021, natural gas production at the Incahuasi field has increased by more than 25% compared to 2020 and is about 9.8 million m³/day of gas and almost 9 thousand barrels/day of gas condensate. Thanks to the connection of the 5th production well, “Gazprom EP International” expects to increase gas production to 11 million m³/day.