Welcome to USRCCNE! from Renee Stillings, Treasurer
In welcoming you to this issue of our newsletter, I thought I would share an observation I made during my trip to Moscow in September. As many of you are probably painfully aware, it is rare that a business trip goes entirely as planned. In Russia in particular, I have found that there is always at least one day when you wonder why you even got out of bed. The day is filled with delays, unsuccessful phone calls, the Internet is down, you are caught for two hours in a traffic jam - en route to a meeting that was cancelled anyway. I came to accept this as inevitable.
This particular trip I had two surprises. First, the weather was spectacular: "Бабье лето" at its finest. Second, every day was productive. Towards the end of my trip I even started to wonder when "the day" was going to be. My luck held out all the way back to SVO-2 when I even had extra time to note some of the new gadgets at the airport that you will read about below.
Enjoy this issue, forward it to your friends and colleagues, and consider joining the chamber so as to further support our efforts.
News: Upcoming Events Russian Investment Symposium will host leaders from the corporate, policy making and investment circles on November 13-14 at the Harvard Club of Boston, MA. For more information see: http://usris.wego.net
Silicon Valley Open Doors, founded in 2005 at Stanford University, will explore the gap between technology entrepreneurship and technology development potential that exists in the countries of the FSU. The conference will be held November 16-17 in Mountain View, CA. For more information see: http://www.svod.org/
News: Chamber Builds Business Ties A group of students from Moscow State University toured Massachusetts businesses on a two week High Technology Business Course hosted by Northeastern University. USRCCNE businesses were among those toured and the students were also invited to a conference hosted by USRCCNE. Read more.
USRCCNE was represented at the 16th Economic Forum in Poland by Chamber president Daniel Satinsky. Nikolai Puntikov, President of Chamber member StarSoft Development Labs, Inc. also participated in one of the round table discussions of the forum, which is often called the "Davos of Eastern Europe." Read more.
Opinion: Russia and the WTO
While most in the business community agree that WTO accession will be helpful to Russian business, Russia's path to accession has been rocky to say the least. What are some of the issues surrounding it?
1) Likely the most publicized issue surrounds international copyright. Besides the pirated music and movies openly sold on streets and in shops throughout Russia, one particular case involves AllofMP3.com, a Russian site which allows users from locations around the world to download music for rock-bottom prices. Western record labels complain that they are not receiving money from the site's profits - but the site is operating legally under Russian legislation. Read more.
2) Upset by what it sees as "foot-dragging," Russia has threatened to impose sanctions against US meat products - if instituted, this could further complicate current WTO talks. Russia imports about a third of its annual poultry consumption from US producers. Read more.
3) US sanctions imposed on two Russian companies, Rosoboronexport and Sukhoi for their sale of military technology to Iran are not predicted to directly affect WTO talks. However, they have certainly not improved relations between the US and Russia which is, many believe, complicating Russia's ascension efforts. Read more.
4) Georgia, who joined the WTO in 1999, has vowed to block Russia's entry as part of the current diplomatic row that has seen Russian military personnel forced to leave Georgia and many Georgian products and businesses banned in Russia. The US is largely supportive of Georgia in the current situation. Read more.
5) Another interesting fact that is also likely negatively though indirectly affecting the situation is the fact that nearly half of Russia's population has never heard of the WTO and nearly half those who have do not know how joining will affect Russia's economy. This public ignorance/apathy was revealed in polls conducted by the Yuri Levada Center. Read more.
USRCCNE encourages its members and readers, once they have studied the issue, to make their opinions known to their representative and senator as well as to our editor. We hope to publish the most interesting comments next month.
Featured Member: Muir Marketing Communications In July, 2005 Muir Marketing Communications received an inquiry from PA Consulting, an internationally respected firm that had been hired two years earlier by USAid and KfW to "westernize" the business practices of Georgia's largest utility, the United Energy Distribution Company (UEDC). PA Consulting's mission was about more than squeezing a few more years from a broken down, Soviet era electrical system. Their goal was to completely reform UEDC to western business standards in order to attract the millions of dollars in private investment necessary to replace Georgia's electrical infrastructure!
Three articles! For the full case study on developing the outreach campaign, click here. For more information about the campaign itself, including video footage, click here. For more about Muir Marketing's business development efforts in the FSU, click here.
Business Travel: Moscow v. 2.0 As is already well-known, Moscow is undergoing a construction and business boom right now. What does this mean for travelers? Starting at the airport, SVO-2 was remodeled recently, with those crazy "pie-tins" taken off the ceiling and new flat-screen TVs installed which now display music videos, advertising, news, etc. SVO-2 is still not particularly noted for its efficiency but there are also many more "creature comforts" there now. Click here for the full photo-based story.
Cross-Culture: "No Gos" of Localization Localization is the process of adapting products, marketing, etc. to "fit" local customs, languages, norms, and realities. This process is important for all companies operating internationally, including those working in the U.S. and Russia. Leo Galperin of Language Connections has been solving localization issues for more than a decade. He recently shared his thoughts on subject with us. Click here for the full story.
Sochi: Business and Pleasure For more than a decade Jack Medzorian has been a frequent visitor to Sochi, Russia's most famed vacation spot, due to his business interests there with Neva Enterprises, Inc and Neva International. He's seen Sochi grow from both immigration and from increased tourism and has seen both the boon this can give a city's economy and the strain it can put on a city's infrastructure. He recently shared his thoughts on the city, its potential, and its problems. Click here for the full story.
Russian Corner: Outstaffing in Russia Outstaffing is a practice now widely known and commonly practiced in the West. It's been catching on in Russia as well. However, due to the lack of legislation surrounding the practice, and the official policies of the Tax Authorities to look for "unjustifiable" business arrangements, the practice can still be a thorny one in Russia. However, with the right planning and knowledge, it still can be very useful. Click here for a full article from Alinga Consulting Group to find out how.
Just for Fun: Kyrgyz Adventures Schaun Wheeler is earning a Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Connecticut. He spent the summer of 2006 traveling in Kyrgyzstan with The School of Russian and Asian Studies. Impressed by his eagerness to submerge himself in the culture and language that surrounded him, he was asked to share some of his thoughts on how others might best do the same. Most of Schaun's advice can be applied to relating to any foreign culture, although his stories focus specifically on the experiences he had with the Kyrgyz. To read the full article, "Sheep Guts Won't Kill You: A Guide to Seeing the Kyrgyzstan that Most People Don't," click here.