The Baikal Economic Forum is one of the biggest business forums in Russia, the key event in the economic and political life of the East Siberia and Far East regions. For last ten years, notable people of the country and representatives of the Russian business elite and foreign countries have been traditionally the participants of the Forum.
The Forum is organized by the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, the Ministry of the Regional Development of Russia, the Ministry of the Economic Development and Trade of Russia and Irkutsk Oblast Administration. Before 2010, the BEF had been held in Irkutsk once in two years. In 2010, the decision to hold the Forum annually was made at the Federal level.
The first Baikal Economic Forum took place in 2000. According to the organizers’ plans, it should have been an ideological continuation of the “SIC Countries Economic Forum, St. Petersburg”, being held in the northern capital since 1996, that plays an important role in establishing economic and political relationships between the participating countries.
The participants of the BEF-2000 discussed problems of investment politics, industrial development, development of transportation and communications system of Siberia and Far East, cooperation with the countries of the Asian-Pacific Region. Egor Stroev , the Chairman of the Council of Federation of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation; Sergej Frank, the Minister of Transportation of the Russian Federation; Leonid Reymann , the Minister of Communications of the Russian Federation, Alexander Pochinok ,the Minister of Labour and Social Care of the Russian Federation; Sergey Kulik, the First Deputy Chairman of the Gosstroy of the Russian Federation, and Victor Gerashenko, the president of the Central Bank of Russia, were its participants . The international exhibition “Siberia and Far East: Investment Projects, Goods and Services” was also organized.
After such debut, the BEF was presented and highly appreciated at many Business Forums in Russia and abroad, including the “Russia-2001” , International Economic Forum in London, and St. Petersburg Economic Forum.
Over 50 delegations from different parts of Russia and 20 foreign delegations took part in the Baikal Economic Forum in 2002. Leading Russian and foreign politicians, businesspeople, over 30 world famous scientists came to Irkutsk. The main topics for discussion were: the energy complex of Russia and ASEAN-countries, natural resort potential of the Asian part of Russia and neighbour countries, ecological problems of the Baikal lake as the world’s heritage and the problems of forming civil society in our country.
The third BEF took place in 2004. Its participants discussed questions of the export of oil, gas, and electricity; construction of a transport corridor through the East Siberia; investment policy and development of the tourist business. The Forum was considered to be the most efficacious of the first three BEFs. Thus, the Japanese representatives announced their intention to construct oil pipelines in East Siberia towards the Pacific ocean, to develop Siberian deposits, to increase their investments into the Russian motor industry. “Legislative initiatives or offers within the frames of discussion of the budget bill for 2005 will be this Forum’s main result ,” said Sergey Mironov, the Council of Federation Chairman.
In summer 2006, the President Vladimir Putin announced the change of Russia’s foreign economic strategy. America and the neighbour CIS countries were not the only priorities of the Russian foreign economic policy anymore. China, India, countries of Latin America and Near East, which were not only business partners, but also good friends, were added into the list. It gave more significance to the Baikal Economic Forum as a business event of the East of Russia. The main goal of the fourth BEF, held in 2006, was consolidation of the “eastern direction” in Russia foreign economic policy. Federal mass media noted that the Baikal Forum was getting more and more representative.
At the same time, the Irkutsk Oblast Administration emphasizes the special BEF importance for the region. “We organize this Forum here, because developing of Irkutsk Oblast is important for us”, – Yury Paranichev, the Senior Deputy of the Irkutsk Oblast Governor, said in 2006, “ The main goal of the fourth Baikal Economic Forum is to attract investment of capital. The more investment Irkutsk Oblast gets, the better it is for its economy and budget.”
The BEF-2006 participants discussed the problem of constructing the” East Siberia – Pacific Ocean“ pipeline system , possible variants of developing the Kovikta gas condensate deposit, developing of the timber processing complex and operating of the financial markets. One of the discussed topicswas creating Baikal Lake Special Economic Zone of the tourist-recreational type.
Sergey Mironov, the Council of Federation Chairman; the Council of Federation Committees and Commissions Chairmen; Leonid Reymann, the Minister of Communications; Michael Zurabov, the Minister of Health and Social Care; Vladimir Yakovlev, the Minister of the Regional Development; Vladinir Yakunin, the Russian Railways, OJSC, President; Victor Wechselberg , the SUAL Holding Directors’ Board President, and many others were among the participants.
The Baikal Economic Forum 2008was an anniversary event as the fifth one. The Forum was devoted to the programmes of the complex developmentof the East Siberian and Far East region sand their integration into the world’s economic space.
In 2010, the VI BEF was held; and as its participants thought it became one of the most impressive and representative. 1,607 people, including delegations of 17 countries (Kazakhstan, Poland, China, Japan, France, and South Korea among them), participated in the Plenary Sessions and Round Tables discussions. 34 members of the Federation Council, and 12 State Duma deputies, the heads of 22 Federal authorities and 53 delegations from the regions were the Forum participants.
Representatives of 66 major Russian and foreign companies, as well as authoritative Russian public associations, Chamber of Commerce, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Association of Russian Banks, etc. worked in the frames of the BEF.
In 2010, the VI BEF was held; and as its participants thought it became one of the most impressive and representative. 1,607 people, including delegations of 17 countries (Kazakhstan, Poland, China, Japan, France, and South Korea among them), participated in the Plenary Sessions and Round Tables discussions. 34 members of the Federation Council, and 12 State Duma deputies, the heads of 22 Federal authorities and 53 delegations from the regions were the Forum participants. Representatives of 66 major Russian and foreign companies, as well as authoritative Russian public associations, Chamber of Commerce, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, Association of Russian Banks, etc. worked in the frames of the BEF.
21 agreements between regional governments and major companies, as well as between commercial entities were concluded in the frames of the VI BEF. Estimated volume of investments may reach 214 billion rubles.
In 2011 (September, 12-14), the VII Baikal International Economic Forum will be held in Irkutsk. It will focus on the strategy of the development of the Far East and Baikal region.
The Forum official opening ceremony will be conducted on September 12th, as well as the plenary session on "State Policy of the development of the Far East and the Baikal region."
Viktor Basargin, the Minister of the RF Regional Development, will present the report "On the Strategy of the Development of the Far East and the Baikal Region."
The exhibition of investment projects of Siberia, the Far East and the countries of the SCO is to be opened on the same day. Traditionally, the second day will focus on the BEF Round Tables activity and the signing of a series of treaties and agreements. In addition, the meeting of the Council for Development of timber industry complex of Russia at the Russian Government led by Victor Maslyakov will be conducted on September,13th ; as well as International Conference and reception hosted by the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of Russia. September,14th will be the Day of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a series of business meetings, in which representatives of the SCO will participate, will be held in the frames of the Day.