Russian government supports business expansion abroad

The Russian government plans to set up an agency to support business expansion abroad. Businessmen approve of the idea but say the agency needs to include business representatives to understand the real issues that corporate Russia is facing.

The Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs has supported the presidential candidacy of Dmitry Medvedev as a guarantor of stability and continuity of the current economic policy.

In turn, Medvedev has promised state support for Russian businesses expanding abroad.

“Businesses must be sure that they will always get the state’s support when expanding on world markets. This is the responsibility of the government, especially in sectors where there is global competition, like energy and hi-tech machinery,” Medvedev said.

Russian companies boosted foreign assets to $US 19 billion in 2007. But with growing global sensitivity to corporate nationalism, businessmen say it’s essential that their voice is heard through an agency at the governmental level.

A key issue for the business community is making sure that the new agency doesn’t simply become another state-owned bureaucracy. They say it must have corporate representation at a range of levels.

They also see it as having potential to act as a middleman between the government and investment banks in financing international projects.

Aeroflot chief Valery Okulov sees the main role of the agency as matching interests of the Russian business abroad and foreign business interests in Russia.

“For example in the aviation business, Aeroflot has several projects in Europe. At the same time European non-aviation business has interests here in Russia. So the agency should tie together these two sides and I assure you that it will be much easier for us to do make business abroad,” Okulov said.

The idea is not new and is widely adopted internationally. The UK Trade and Investment Office supports British companies and offers consulting service for firms moving globally, as well as for foreign companies coming to the UK market.

Russian business looking for similar levels of support here say the idea’s time has come.