The SPIEF is a leading international business event and platform for discussing key economic issues in Russia, emerging economies and the world as a whole. The forum’s attendance is estimated at nearly 10,000 participants from Russia and other countries, including heads of state and government, corporate leaders, as well as representatives from the research and media communities and civil society institutions.
The forum was initiated to promote a constructive dialogue to develop mutual understanding and create the basis for common decisions and actions.
The concept for the forum was proposed by the Federation Council, which is the upper house of Russia’s parliament, and the Commonwealth of Independent State (CIS) Inter-Parliamentary Assembly. In May 1997, it was approved by the Russian president.
Initially, the forum was intended to become the analogue of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos for the CIS countries, focused on the economic and geopolitical development of the member states.
In 1998, the Russian president signed a directive making the St. Petersburg forum an annual event. In 2001, the forum was declared the main economic event in the CIS. From 2006, it has been held under the auspices of and attended by the president of Russia.
Between 1997 and 2006, SPIEF was organized by the CIS Inter-Parliamentary Assembly and the Federation Council of Russia’s parliament with support from the Russian government and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In 2006, the Russian Ministry of Economic Development took over as forum organizer.
The Organizing Committee of the forum was established under presidential executive order of January 22, 2008. The SPIEF Organizing Committee was chaired by the Economic Development Minister of Russia.
From 2014, the post of chair of the SPIEF Organizing Committee was turned over to Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Government Executive Office Sergei Prikhodko.
The Roscongress Foundation (the St. Petersburg Economic Forum International Foundation until December 2015) is responsible for organizational and logistics matters at the SPIEF.
Between 1997 and 2005, the SPIEF was held in St. Petersburg’s Tauride Palace, and between 2006 and 2015 at the Lenexpo Exhibition Complex.
In 2016, the SPIEF was moved to the ExpoForum Convention and Exhibition Centre, which opened in October 2014.
The forum is held in the form of panel sessions, roundtable discussions, exhibitions, investment project presentations, business meetings and talks. Its working languages are Russian and English.
The 21st St. Petersburg forum was held on June 1-3, 2017 and was attended by over 14,000 participants from 143 countries, including CEOs from some 700 Russian and 400 foreign corporations. The event was also attended by foreign high-ranking officials. The key event in SPIEF-2017 was its plenary session with participation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Some 127 events were held in the form of panel sessions, round tables, TV-debates, business breakfasts and business dialogues. For the first time after a three-year pause, US-Russia business dialogue was held on the forum sidelines with Putin's participation.
The cultural program of SPIEF 2016 included 88 cultural and sports events. A total of 475 investment agreements, memorandums and agreements of intent worth nearly 1817.9 billion rubles ($32 billion) (the agreements covered by commercial confidentiality are not taken into account) were signed on the forum sidelines.
In 2018, SPIEF is held on May 24-26. The key theme of SPIEF 2018 is "Building a Trust Economy." The central event of the forum will be a plenary session with participation of Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.