Turn to the East: the Eastern Economic Forum as a post-Western world economic focal point

01.09.2021

September 2-4, the Eastern Economic Forum will be held in Vladivostok. Traditionally, the forum in the largest city of the Russian Far East, attracts serious attention from Russian and foreign business, as well as world leaders. In addition to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Forum has previously been attended by leaders from China, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia and other Asian countries.

This year, despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the forum promises to be representative as well as before. The plenary session on 3 September will feature online addresses by Heads of State and Government from Argentina, India, Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia, Russia and Thailand. According to the organisers, this year's Eastern Economic Forum will be able to host no more than 5,000 people - for health and epidemiological reasons. In 2019, a record attendance of 8,000 people was broken. The forum was not held in 2020 because of the pandemic. This year, the organizers promise to keep the sanitary and epidemiological situation under control, which means certain restrictions for participants.

All offline participants will be tested for coronavirus, and the organisers plan to ensure sanitary safety. There is a strong competition of entries from foreign guests from 51 countries, which shows that the Russian authorities are trusted in this regard.

To ensure maximum access for Asian countries to the forum, interactive studios will be set up in Shanghai, Tokyo and Seoul from where representatives of Chinese, Japanese and South Korean authorities and businesses will be able to get in touch with forum participants.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, will start his visit to Vladivostok on September 1, according to the Kremlin's press service. He will discuss with local regional leaders issues of socio-economic development of the Russian Far East. Over the next few days, according to the Eastern Economic Forum's programme, the participants will focus on this issue as well as on discussions of global economic and social problems. These include the challenges and opportunities for the Far East and the Arctic, the development of the Northern Sea Route, the future of hydrocarbon energy and the prospects for green energy, digital sovereignty, the development of medical technology, the construction of unmanned logistics corridors between Europe and Asia via Russia, and prospects in the gold and precious metals markets.

Indicatively, the Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok has already transcended the boundaries of the Asia-Pacific region and taken on a truly global scale, as evidenced by India's active participation in the project both in previous years and now, as well as the attention paid by Argentina, a South American country landlocked on the Pacific Ocean. In addition, events are planned as part of the Russia-Italy and Russia-Europe business dialogues, demonstrating the high interest of European (in this case primarily Italian) business in projects in Russia, including in the Far East.

Particular attention will be paid to discussing the Greater Eurasian Partnership, a Russian initiative that involves pairing Russian integration initiatives (EAEU, Customs Union), China's 'Belt and Road Initiative' (BRI) and the initiatives of India and ASEAN to form a harmonious space for development in Eurasia. The Greater Eurasian Partnership implies the absence of regulatory bureaucratic mechanisms, but instead envisages the development of a network structure for the coordination of initiatives between sovereign decision-making centres. This initiative is completely opposite to the authoritarian European approach to integration processes, where a rigid bureaucratic system is built, which dictates not only economic, but also political rules of the game. Russia's approach to integration in Eurasia is also opposed to American projects ("New Silk Road") aimed at destroying the common geopolitical space, confronting Russia and China and imposing liberal ideology. Russia offers the countries of Eurasia an alternative - a dialogue of civilizations and sovereign economic-political projects, working together for common benefit  of the continent.

This approach allows us to hope that the Eastern Economic Forum can become a significant platform for stabilizing the world economy and overcoming the negative situation in the financial sector. By restoring economic ties that have been interrupted since the start of the pandemic, it has the potential to promote global business development. It is extremely important that this impetus comes from a state that has declared the construction of a multipolar world as its foreign policy priority.

If the globalists are trying to take advantage of the pandemic to reset the world economy in the way they want (Great Recet), then supporters of civilizational multipolarity should put forward their projects, where the assembly points for the world economy are sovereign centres, projects outside the Western-centric globalist paradigm.

The Eastern Economic Forum, notwithstanding the presence of left-liberal elements in its programme (the disproportionate emphasis on "ecology" and the struggle against "carbon footprints" - as evidence of the integration of part of the Russian elite and business into the globalist environment) may become one of the alternatives to globalist platforms such as the World Economic Forum. Importantly, the Forum will actively promote the themes of sovereignty, including in new technologies and big data management within the framework of the nation-state paradigm.

The fact that the Forum will be held against the backdrop of a stunning collapse of the Western-centric world order, marked by the US flight from Afghanistan, only underscores a new perspective in the construction of a post-Western world. The West, represented by the US, the EU and the UK, is losing both economic and political hegemony in the world.