The Second Russian-British Raw Materials Dialogue, which took place in London, has come to its end. The main purpose of this event was to create a platform that would facilitate mutually beneficial cooperation in the raw materials industry. The development of joint projects regarding the efficient use of minerals was another matter under discussion. The following issues were on the agenda: business climate improvement, providing conditions for increased investment activity, training engineers to work with mineral resources and joint field development in the isolated areas of the Far North.
The participants of the dialogue were politicians, businessmen and scientists. They discussed the development prospects between our countries in economic relations and cooperation in trade, investment, science and academic affairs. "Forpost" made a decision to ask the forum’s participants whether they believe that the Dialogue serves as a platform for restoring trust-based relationships between our countries or they rather consider this task being entirely impossible.
According to Vladimir Litvinenko, the Principal of the Mining University, "There are possibilities for development of mutually beneficial economic cooperation between Russia and UK. In our country, we have a huge raw material potential. So far, we have already learned how to use it efficiently. Up to 80% of our resources are exported mainly to Europe. Moreover, among all the CIS countries, we are the only state that has managed to establish more than 30 public companies. Their shares are traded here, on the London Stock Exchange. This is a proof of stability. However, the most important is that both countries’ businesses are interested in working together and developing economic cooperation."
Mikhail Shvydkoy, Special Representative of the President of Russia in International Cultural Cooperation, believes that the Dialogue contributes to development of specific joint projects, and here lies the most important advantage of the event. According to him, "The platform is so special because we do not discuss here some abstract political topics. Instead of it we are talking about specific issues that concern people who live both in Russia and the UK. This is the place where, for example, educational institutions of both our countries bring to a common denominator and recognize each other's educational standards. It is indeed a very important step towards the recognition of degree certificates issued by Russian academic institutions in foreign countries."
According to Alexander Yakovenko, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation in the UK, the forum promotes the growth of trust between our states as a whole. This issue is of specific importance at this moment, as relations between Moscow and London are in a serious decline and probably are at the lowest point since the beginning of the post-Soviet era. The Ambassador assures, "This event is a contribution to the relations between Russia and the UK. Despite the tough anti-Russian line, to which the British government adheres, the forum like this opens the way for freer and easier professional interaction between our states. The more so as the initiator of the Dialogue on our part was the Mining University – one of the most reputable and well-known Russian universities."
The Raw Materials Dialogue, according to its participants, is a good platform for developing horizontal communication at the regional level. This type of cooperation may become one of the factors leading to the growth of economic cooperation between our states. As noted by Igor Albin, the Vice Governor of Saint-Petersburg, during his speech at the forum, the trade turnover between St. Petersburg and the UK in 2017 amounted to 1.3 billion USD, which is 88% higher than a year before. The United Kingdom is also the 10th largest trading partner of our city.
As Albin pointed out, "The Russian-British Raw Materials Dialogue is an opportunity for all of us to bring together top leaders of the scientific and business communities of the raw materials sector as well as prominent political and public figures of our cities and regions. This is our chance to build real trust and establish a partnership in the mineral sector. Over a hundred British companies currently operate in Saint-Petersburg. These are Baltic Petroleum, Shell, BP, TNK-BP as well as many other companies. I would say that we extend our contact networks in the minerals sector both within the scientific framework as well as in the field of real economy".
Representatives of the host country also share high opinion of the Russian-British Raw Materials Dialogue as well as mention the importance of the event.
According to Charles Hendry, the President of the Russian – British Сhamber of Industry, "The purpose of this conference is to show that regardless of the politics Russian and British institutions, enterprises and businesses are working together to explore the possibilities for mutually beneficial cooperation. The events like this can help break down all the political obstacles and contribute to the development of relationships between the states. The Dialogue is also important to increase understanding between our countries and increase the level of trust."
There were four discussion areas at the II Russian-British Raw Materials Dialogue. One of them was devoted to the interaction of financial and banking institutions in the United Kingdom and nuances of the procedures for entering the London Stock Exchange. This discussion was attended by representatives of the London Metal Exchange as well as by the leaders of major public Russian companies.
The other discussions focused on the unification of the reporting and educational standards, tools for improving performance quality, possibilities of increasing investments in the Russian mining industry and the prospects for enhancing the quality of engineering education. The end of the event was marked by the state reception of the forum participants at the residence of the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation in the UK.
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