5 March 2003
Urals Investment Potential
Sverdlovsk Province Has Huge Investment Potential
Interview with Consul General of Great Britain in Yekaterinburg Linda Cross
Ms. Cross, among all consuls general you have been the longest-serving consul posted in the Urals and rightly deserve the honorary title of doyen. Tell us, please, to what extent is Sverdlovsk Province, judging by your observations, attractive to British businesspeople in terms of its investment potential?
British companies consider Russia as a whole a somewhat risky place for investment. Accordingly, each individual region should make additional efforts to make it more secure and attractive to foreign business. Certainly, there cannot be any fully protected investment. Companies always take chances investing in any country. As for the Sverdlovsk Province, it has huge potentialities for British business. Over the last few years, Russia’s image among British businessmen has improved. The number of British companies intent on boosting cooperation with Middle Urals enterprises, examining the possibility of financial investments, and establishing trade relations is growing.
What do you think is the reason for “warming up” the investment climate in the Middle Urals?
There are several reasons for that. First of all, the British take a different look at Russia now, because the Russian economy is improving. The investors see President Vladimir Putin take the required steps to reform different sectors of the Russian economy. This process is moving ahead gradually but systematically, which inspires some confidence in the future of Russia and its individual regions. The interest that British companies take in Sverdlovsk Province increases owing to joints efforts of our consulate and local enterprises. Either side works on its own to develop and expand business ties between British and Ural partners.
Please, tell us about your latest achievements along these lines and the plans of the Yekaterinburg-based British consulate?
In this past year, we have set up three different trade missions: three delegations from the Ural region have visited the United Kingdom; as many British delegations have come to the Urals. Thus, Sir Roderic Lyne, Her Royal Majesty’s Ambassador to the RF, who led a group of British businessmen, as well as an impressive lineup of managers of major British companies led by the head of the Metallurgy Group at the British Ministry of Industry and Trade have paid Yekaterinburg a visit in 2002. It is gratifying to notice that these contacts are followed up. For instance, it is planned to set up, with the support of our consulate, the British Machine-building Association and the Delcam-Urals joint venture---a British technical center designed to comprehensively address the problem of technical re-equipment of enterprises.
This year’s plans envisage visits of British companies to Sverdlovsk Province for presentations and holding seminars in Yekaterinburg as well as return visits of CEOs of leading Ural enterprises to the UK in order to assess prospects of cooperation with our enterprises.
Ms. Cross, as you know, a Blueprint of Development and Location of Productive Forces of Sverdlovsk Province Until 2015 has been recently adopted. It is planned to hold a series of the Blueprint’s presentations in several foreign countries, including Britain, in the course of this year. Will this event, in your opinion, benefit the expansion of our cooperation?
In effect, a presentation of the Blueprint of Development and Location of Productive Forces of Sverdlovsk Province is due to be held at the annual Russian Economic Forum in London in April this year. I’m confident this will provide an excellent opportunity for getting most complete information on the region. Besides, I discussed with Sverdlovsk Province Governor Eduard Rossel the possibility of meeting with the British state investment organization, Invest UK, within the Forum’s framework. I think this meeting can prove useful for exchanging experience of the two parties in the area of investment attraction. Investments are a sector where Britain is especially successful, and we are ready to share our experience with others.