The World Economy Department of Virtual Institute affiliate member, Saint Petersburg State University (SPSU), held an international conference on the topic of the "Evolution of International Trading System: Prospects and challenges" October 20. The conference brought together about 100 participants from the Russian Federation and eight other countries.

The UNCTAD Secretariat was represented by Kalman Kalotay, of the Division on Investment and Enterprise. In addition to a keynote speaker, Kalotay was co-moderator of the "Foreign direct investments and multinational enterprises" session.

Discussions at the plenary and panel sessions explored a broad range of issues related to the evolution of the international economy, putting the question of trade in a broader context.

The first keynote speech by Torbjörn Becker, Director of the Stockholm Institute of Transition Economics (SITE), presented the challenges and prospects for the external economic links of the Russian Federation.  

In the second keynote speech, Kalman Kalotay discussed how over the past decade the global landscape for outward foreign direct investment (FDI) has shifted toward new home countries, including the Russian Federation, how we can measure the degree of their dynamism, and what common features they share.

“His presentation ‘Understanding emerging outward foreign direct investment’ focused on constructing an outward foreign direct investment index as a more objective measure of internationalization,” said Vi member coordinator, Olga Trofimenko. “This approach encouraged lively discussion among the participants of the conference.”

Subsequent discussions evolved around the questions of regionalism, FDI and multinational enterprises, migration, new international trading powers and finance.

At the end of the conference, a round-table discussed how the Russian Federation can embark on import substitution in the current international context characterized by sanctions and exceptionally low prices for oil, the country's main export item. Panellists agreed that opportunities for creating new economic activities abound, but it is often challenging to seize them.