Growth in Trade and Potential for High-Tech Collaboration: Recap of the Russian-British Business Forum in London

The Russian-British Business Forum V ‘Digital Industries and Infrastructure’, the largest Russian business event abroad, has concluded in London. This year, the Forum was attended by over 1,000 people, while more than 50 representatives of government and senior management from business spoke at the discussions and roundtables. Trade between Russia and the United Kingdom continued to grow in 2019 and could reach USD 15 billion by the end of the year.

The annual Forum, which is organized under the auspices of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade by the Trade Representation of Russia in the United Kingdom jointly with the Roscongress Foundation, took place for the fifth time in Westminster at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre. Per tradition, the participants discussed some of the most pressing trade relations issues during the RBBF discussions and roundtables. This year, numbers in various sectors from banking services to urban studies were a major theme at the Forum events.

According to data for the first three quarters of 2019, trade between Russia and the United Kingdom amounted to more than USD 11 billion, up 12.8% from the same period of last year. Imports from Russia to the UK increased significantly at around 17.3% to more than USD 8.5 billion. There was also an increase in the share of non-resource and non-energy exports from Russia to the UK, which grew by 21.9% compared with 2018 to more than USD 1.8 billion. Trade turnover is expected to amount to USD 15 billion this year, an increase of at least 10% from 2018.

“Relations between the business communities of Russia and the UK continue to evolve, as evidenced by the increase in the number of participants in the Russian-British Business Forum held in London compared with last year. We see that both countries are active in trade, economic, and cultural affairs as part of the cross-year programme of music of Russia and the UK in 2019. I am certain that the themes that were raised at this Forum are important to the whole world, so the results of their discussions will make an important contribution to the further development of relations between the business communities,” Adviser to the Russian President Anton Kobyakov said.

Developing cooperation in digital technologies is one of the two countries’ top goals in their collaboration. An example of this was the debut of the Russian artificial intelligence system Dasha.AI at the Forum, which can perform all the functions of call centres: from recruiting employees for the company to processing customer orders. The UK company IXcelerate has announced the construction of two data centres in Moscow with investments of more than USD 100 million. One of the most notable events at the Forum was the announcement of the launch of the Russian payment system MIR in the UK and other European countries through the acquiring of PayXpert.

“In recent years, we have seen a striking growth trend in Russian non-energy and non-resource exports and the mutual interest of the two countries in high-tech products and services. In this economic context, it is essential to create the best conditions for the further development of Russian-British business relations, which, despite the political situation, have seen a steady increase in indicators,” Trade Representative of Russia in the UK Boris Abramov said.

The agreement signings at the RBBF this year included a cooperation agreement between the Roscongress Foundation and the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce and an agreement on exports to the UK between Makfa and the distributor Monolith.

The RBBF V was attended by Agency for Strategic Initiatives General Director Svetlana Chupsheva, Russian Deputy Minister of Digital Development, Communications, and Mass Media Maxim Parshin, Russian Deputy Minister of Economic Development Vadim Zhivulin, Russian Presidential Commissioner for Entrepreneurs’ Rights Boris Titov, VimpelCom Executive Vice President Artashes Sivkov, senior executives from Sberbank Russia, BP, British American Tobacco Plc, JCB, Hydro Industries, Albert Bartlett, and other companies.

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The Roscongress Foundation is a socially oriented non-financial development institution and a major organizer of international conventions, exhibitions, and public events.

The Roscongress Foundation was established in 2007 to help develop Russia’s economic potential, promote its national interests, and strengthen the country’s image. The Foundation thoroughly studies, analyses, compiles, and covers issues on the Russian and global economic agenda. The Foundation administers and facilitates the promotion of business projects and the raising of investments and also contributes to the development of social entrepreneurship and charitable projects.

Each year, the Foundation’s events bring together participants from 208 countries and are covered by more than 15,000 media representatives. The Foundation has some 2,500 experts involved in analytical and expert work in Russia and abroad and collaborates with 117 foreign economic partners, associations of industrialists and entrepreneurs as well as financial, trade, and business associations in 68 countries.

About the RBBF

The purpose of the Forum is to bolster interstate relations, develop trade and investment, and promote Russian projects in various sectors. At the Forum, representatives of the political and business establishment address practical issues related to the digitalization of the economy, the introduction of advanced technologies in various industries, export policies, and global market opportunities. The Forum is held annually in late November in London.

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