The USRCCNE Monthly Newsletter
For those with interests bridging the US and Russia...
From Josh Wilson, General Editor, USRCCNE
Our Chamber newsletter focuses again on political issues. The recent US-Russia summit held in Moscow, and the parallel business conference that was held in conjunction with it, helped point out just how interconnected international politics and international business are. Political relations can affect many aspects of a country's business environment. Visa regimes, tariffs, import quotas and bans, double taxation, and restrictive trade legislation are all still cited as problems in US-Russia trade. All, we can be sure, will require an improvement in general relations before they can be solved.
Diplomatically, the summit was hailed as a success. Obama's visit, as Foreign Policy Magazine put it, was a "ray of sunshine" in what has been a troubled relationship. But there is still much more work to be done if the leaders' stated goals of arms reduction, military cooperation, and increased trade are to be realized. Our newsletter this month is geared to showcase exactly what happened at that summit, as the atmosphere created there is likely to continue to affect the course of US-Russia relations, and US-Russia trade for some time. You will also find information on how you can host students and young professionals from Russia, how Russian Railways is investing in Russia's regions, how currency fluctuations are affecting HR management in Russia, and, much, much more.
As always, this newsletter is dependent on you. If you have an announcement or a news item to be included in our newsletter, or if you would like to subscribe to this free publication, please contact us.
USRCCNE & Members News and Events
American Host Families Needed for LEAP and Scholarship Programs
LEAP targets young professionals who are pursuing careers in government or intend to do so. The scholarship programs give students the opportunity to attend a U.S. high school and live with an American host family for one academic year
Steinmetz: Contemplating Gogol
(December 1 - Moscow) The Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, Russia is celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of Nikolai Gogol with a solo exhibit by Boston-based artist Leon Steinmetz.
Auriga Keeps Mobile in Focus
This year, the annual RUSSOFT Software Development Forum focused on mobile technology. Auriga was there as an active participant to showcase its many achievements and plans in this area. Subscribe to Auriga's newsletter
(This section in partnership with the School of Russian and Asian Studies)
Russia watchers and foreign policy think tanks were busy holding conferences and issuing policy suggestions in the run-up to the Moscow summit. Most were united in suggesting that Obama should seize the chance to improve US-Russia relations but should also hold firm on issues important to America. This was true, to varying degrees, of material issued by The Center for American Progress, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The Council on Foreign Relations, and Harvard's Belfer Center.
Obama's AP interview
In an interview on the eve of his Moscow trip, Obama stated that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin still has "one foot in the old ways of doing business," which left many wondering what the diplomatic purpose and value of such a statement might be. Some contrasted this to Dmitry Medvedev's much less politically charged video blog statement released in the run-up to the summit. Video of that in the original Russian is also available. Meanwhile, Obama's pre-trip interviews with Russian media, such as with Novaya Gazeta and Rossiya Channel, seemed very carefully worded.
Speech at the New Economic School
Billed as Obama's "third major foreign policy speech," Obama addresses missile defence, issues surrounding NATO, Georgia, and Ukraine. He argues that a strong civil society is a precondition for a successful state, and that the economic success of any country is intertwined with the economic success of others. He does all this in language that is meant to appeal to Russia's values, its culture, and its sense of its own history. Text is also available. See also a short array of opinions on the speech offered by Reuters.
On US-Russian Business
Obama meets the Russian Patriarch. They also had a short private meeting.
Presidents Obama and Medvedev addressed a business conference arranged by the US-Russia Business Council, the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, the Russian Union of Industrial Entrepreneurs, and others. They set up a presidential commission that is, in part, charged with encouraging US-Russia trade. Neither address details the problems currently facing this challenge, but a Bloomberg interview with AmCham Russia President Andrew Somers does address some major issues. AmCham Russia has also created an "Obzor" of media coverage about the event. For those who can understand Russian, coverage of the event by Russia's RBC television channel goes into even more depth from the Russian point of view. It's also remarkable that billions of dollars in investment by such companies as Boeing, Pepsi, John Deere, and Exxon were also announced in conjunction with the summit.
Presidents Obama and Medvedev announced several major agreements on issues of arms reductions, military cooperation, and nuclear, scientific, economic cooperation and more. Both leaders discussed these agreements at length in a joint press conference held at the end of the first day. All agreements will need to be discussed by the leaders' respective governments and many will face steep debate including the deal on nuclear arms. Obama's second day was occupied by an array of meetings with people as diverse as Prime Minister Putin, civil society and opposition leaders such as the Solidarity Movement's Gary Kasparov and Boris Nemstov, the Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, and Fair Russia's Ilya Ponomarev. Obama also met with business leaders, former soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and Patriarch Kirill, the leader of the Russian Orthodox Church. This approach of splitting his outreach to government, business, and civil society seems to have been very successful, with nearly all those involved reporting positively on the outcome.
Articles & Resources
A brief list of some major new stories from Russian business in May.
Who Shut Off the Gas?
Article by Dan Satinsky at BEA Associates. In the aftermath of the Russia – Ukraine conflict over gas shipments in January 2009, a certain understanding of these events has become entrenched "conventional wisdom" in European and American public opinion that as a result of an unresolved commercial dispute with Ukraine, Gazprom shut off gas to its European customers. The facts show otherwise.
The Medvedev Thaw: Is it real? Will it last?
A recent hearing of the Helsinki Commission featured shocking testimony by businessman William Browder and scholar Sarah Mendelson on the difficulties of doing business and maintaining the rule of law in Russia.
Geography Of Offshoring Is Shifting
India and China continue as top offshoring destinations; but Central/Eastern Europe falls while Southeast Asia and Middle East countries rise.
Tripartite Customs Union: Implications for Trade and Geopolitics
PBN's latest issue of Policy Matters examines Russia's recent aboutface on its WTO application, withdrawing its individual application and proposing to apply as part of a regional trade union.
Regional Investment: Russian Rail's $14.5bn BAM Estimates Posted
Marchmont News Service reports that total investment in upgrades at the Baikal-Amur BAM railroad through 2020 is estimated to be $14.5bn. Subscribe to Marchmont News Service
Russian Corner: Currency Losses - Financial and HR Aspects
Alinga Consulting Group's managing partner, Chet Bowling, looks at how, with the dramatic drop in the ruble’s value, many business have found that exchange rate losses are a financial and HR problem. The solution? Effective communication. Subscribe to the Alinga Market Update
Just for Fun: Fighting in Russian
In honor of the efforts to "reset" Russian-American relations, this month The School of Russian and Asian Studies' Russian Mini-Lesson looks at fighting and reconciliation - both as occur between individuals and between countries. Subscribe to the SRAS newsletter