Russia cancels SPIEF 2020 economic conference over coronavirus concerns

Russia cancels SPIEF 2020 economic conference over coronavirus concerns

One of the biggest business events in Russia, the St. Petersburg Economic Forum (SPIEF), won’t be convening this year due to the coronavirus outbreak, organizers have announced.

The decision was made in order to “protect the health of Russian citizens, guests and participants,” Andrey Belousov, chairman of the SPIEF organizing committee, explained.

SPIEF 2020 was scheduled to take place between June 3 and June 6.

The decision to cancel the event comes amid the Covid-19 epidemic, which originated in China’s Wuhan and has already killed 3,000 people around the globe.

In February, Moscow temporarily banned Chinese citizens – except those with service, business, humanitarian and transit visas – from entering the country in order to contain the spread of the disease. The move put the fate of the St. Petersburg Forum in question as a large number of its guests are Chinese, due to the close business ties between the two neighbors.

For over a decade, the St. Petersburg Economic Forum has been the prime business event in Russia, and has traditionally been attended by the president. It attracted more than 10,000 guests from around the globe, including heads of state, entrepreneurs, investors, top economists and others.

Over the past two years alone, the forum has been attended by the likes of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, French leader Emmanuel Macron, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

Earlier, the Russian Investment Forum, which was scheduled to take place in Sochi in February, was also postponed due to the risk of coronavirus.

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