Governor Valentina Matviyenko extolled the strengths of her city Wednesday in the principal report to a Stockholm seminar on 'Saint Petersburg in the 21st Century-a Look at Its Culture, Science, Economy and Development.' The seminar sponsors included prominent business and political personalities in Sweden, the governor's press service reported. In her presentation, Matviyenko said: 'In the conditions of an open market economy, where cities and regions compete to attract investments, Saint Petersburg's competitive advantages are clear.' In particular, she mentioned the city's favorable geopolitical location and its vast scientific, industrial and investment potential.
'Indexes of economic development give us good reason to look ahead with optimism,' the governor said. She noted that Standard&Poor's improved the city's outlook for ratings change from stable to 'positive' in February of this year while confirming the city's long-term BB (stable) credit rating.
Moreover, she noted that Saint Petersburg had improved in seven categories in the 2003 rating of cities done by Economist Intelligence United. Matviyenko stressed that the city's leadership is now working out a strategic plan for development in the 21st century that will emphasize the role of new technology. She said the city is determined to increase the flow of direct investments from Russian and foreign sources and that foreign investment could be crucial in bringing the city advanced production and control technology, and in attracting 'intellectual resources' for various economic sectors, particularly in services, health, public transportation, construction of parking facilities, recycling of waste and real estate management.
She said Saint Petersburg was counting on small and medium-size companies, which she called the economic base of many countries of Europe, to join with Petersburg firms in joint and cooperative ventures. Matviyenko called for renewed attention to the idea of a 'Baltic Partnership' conference in Saint Petersburg in 2005 and expressed hope that support for it would come from Sweden. She also called for a new look at the current Agreement on Cooperation between Saint Petersburg and Stockholm with new goals to be set and a new agreement to be signed in the fall of this year.
Among those at the seminar were Stockholm Mayor Annika Billstrem, Sweden's ambassador to Russia and the director of the Stockholm Economics Institute Erik Bergluf.