Experts: the development of freedom of trade is necessary for progress in the development of the Arctic

ST. PETERSBURG, April 5. /TASS/. The development of free trade in the Arctic region and cooperation with international investors are important factors for the development of the Northern regions. That opinion has been shared with TASS the Chairman of the Arctic economic Council, Tero Varaste on the sidelines of the workshop “Arctic marine industry – potential for Finnish-Russian cooperation”, held on Thursday at the Consulate General of Finland in St. Petersburg.

“Free trade is important for the global economy, but it is especially important for the Arctic, because the Arctic – the region has only 4 million people, limiting potential investment and, therefore, we must join the international investment market with the Arctic. Existing trade barriers, which include the sanctions, which include a number of restrictions from Russia, they slow down the development. The Arctic is an area of peace, stability and dialogue, and we must reinforce this dialogue, to strengthen the freedom of trade in the Arctic to improve the economy and state of society in this region”, – shared his opinion Vaarasta.

On the importance of international cooperation in the Northern regions was also said the newly appointed Chairman of St. Petersburg Committee on the Arctic Herman Shirokov. He especially emphasized in his speech that the seminar was one of the first events for him in his new position.

“One of the priority directions of national policy of Russia in the Arctic is maintaining it as a zone of peace and cooperation, one of the priority directions of development of the Russian Arctic – is international cooperation,” – said Shirokov.

Infrastructure development in the Arctic

According to many workshop participants, the development of transport, social and technological infrastructure in the Arctic could become one of the main directions of international cooperation. As noted by Varaste, today there is a need for development of Arctic ports, the establishment of direct railroad communication between the Baltic and the coast of the Arctic ocean. According to him, these projects could combine the Asian, Russian and European investors.

He also emphasized the plans for the laying of cable for high-speed data transmission on the bottom of the Arctic ocean.

“Perhaps the main project – cable from Europe to Asia, which will pass under the Northern seas. This project will consolidate cooperation Asian markets, Russian markets and the European markets. I think the intention of the initiators of the project now are that construction could begin within a year or two because of the obvious necessity of this project,” – said the chair of the Arctic economic Council.

Many speakers talked about the development of social infrastructure.

This is the direction in which Russia can be useful experience of Western countries, including Finland, the opinion in his speech announced the Director of the investment Department of the Agency of the Far East to attract investment and support exports of the Ministry of Far East development Basil Gurudev.

“The experience of Finnish companies not only in the part concerning the development of port infrastructure, but also in relation to such aspects as telemedicine as the provision of necessary services to the population living in remote Arctic places, and all of these technologies are in demand, can and will be in demand in the Eastern part of our country,” said Gurudev.

Integrated development of the Arctic

In their speeches, the speakers stressed the importance of integrated development of the Arctic and the interest of Finnish investors to develop the Northern sea route as a line linking Europe and Asia.

However, as stressed in his speech Gurudev to the Northern sea route could fully compete with the traffic in the South seas, it is necessary to provide complex support vessels, equipment for ports and infrastructure development all the way from the Far East to Europe.

“If we talk about competition the Northern sea route, we are competing with South routes. It’s important not to forget that customers are interested in the service from end to end. Arctic projects offered to Russia should be based on the idea of end-to-end services, the idea of service from the West coast to the Eastern Arctic,” – said in his speech Gurudev.

About the seminar

Workshop “Arctic marine industry – potential for Finnish-Russian cooperation” was held in the Consulate General of Finland in Saint-Petersburg. It was attended by representatives of Russian and Finnish companies involved in shipbuilding, maintenance ports, and infrastructure development in the Arctic regions.