Q How has St Petersburg been performing in the global recession?

A The Russian economy is already deeply involved in the globalisation process and has become a part of the global economy. Therefore, as an element of the Russian economy, St Petersburg is obviously also affected by the globalisation process.

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However, in the case of our city, this negative effect is probably much less severe compared to some other regions. To begin with, this is due to the diversified nature of the St Petersburg economy. Our export potential is quite strong. Our manufacturing and technological sectors are highly developed.

In recent years, we have laid solid foundations for future development. A great level of resources, including investment, has been committed to modernising the economy. We have worked hard to take our economy on a more innovation-led route of development, and the strengths we have accumulated in recent years have allowed us to mitigate the negative effects of the global financial crisis.

There is no doubt that the increase in production has dropped, but this drop has not been dramatic. In the past five years, we have managed to increase the city’s budget revenues fivefold, which made it possible for us to create a stable social, political and economic environment. It has also allowed us to commit a fair amount of resources to the development of both engineering and road infrastructures.

Q Are you worried about your automotive cluster in light of the problems that car makers have been having?

A This issue is not unique to St Petersburg. These problems exist worldwide, in all automotive companies. However, they are temporary. There is no point denying that there is a decline in car production caused by the worldwide decline in demand. However, we are certain that this situation will not last and that, no later than by the end of this year, it will start changing, with the automotive factories gathering momentum and increasing output.

The most important thing is that these factories are already completed and are capable of producing the required number of vehicles. The level of production will return to its previous level as soon as demand picks up. All the more so because the government of the Russian Federation is taking measures for this to happen by stimulating consumer demand and subsidising purchases of new cars – and these are not just domestic cars, but also other brands of cars produced by factories operating on the Russian territory regardless of the origins of their resources.

Q How do you feel St Petersburg is viewed by international investors?

A The fact that foreign investment has grown many times over in the past five years speaks for itself. It means that the West views St Petersburg and the north-west region [of Russia] as a very attractive investment location.

These days, St Petersburg is no longer just a recognisable location, but is widely known due to its increasing role as a centre for hosting high-profile international events. It has become, to a certain degree, a diplomatic capital because of the annual international economic forum that is held in the city, and which is attended by heads of large corporations, heads of state and members of governments.

Q What is your next move? Will we see you next in a federal role in the Russian government?

A I believe that the position of St Petersburg governor is already quite a senior position at the national level. There are still so many plans which I have to put into action in this magnificent city. For this reason, I intend to associate the rest of my career specifically with this city.

Curriculum Vitae

Valentina Matvienko

2003Saint Petersburg City Administration

Governor

1998Russian Federation

Deputy premier minister

1997Russian Federation

Ambassador of Russia to Greece

1991USSR

Ambassador of the USSR to Malta

1989Supreme Soviet Committee on Women’s Affairs

Chairwoman