In the welcome light of new foreign policy initiatives designed to restart dialogs between the United States and the Russian Federation, the path to enhanced business cooperation is clearer now than at any time in recent years. American and Russian CEOs from a variety of commercial sectors and industries looking to expand trade, increase investment, and pursue joint ventures that produce win-win outcomes. Fundamental to this improved sense of optimism is the increasing realization that Russia’s investment climate is getting more stable.
This is a notable change from past perceptions. Few doubt the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 caused significant economic and social hardship. And there is no question the years following were difficult, at best. However, those times also bore witness to a social and economic renaissance.
The major issue faced by the American partners-to-be is inadequate corporate governance of Russian based companies. Work needs to be done among Russian small and medium size companies to meet international and U.S. accounting standards for information disclosure. Introduction of open lines of communications and transparency issues is a dominating factor in successful cooperation between US and Russian trader. Once this issue is solved, US-Russian cooperation will experience a totally different effect especially within small business. Local, regional, provincial communities, small and medium size vendors, manufacturers, exporters in the United States are more than ever looking for new sales regions. The US market is overpopulated where Russia remains one of the more lucrative consumer zones in the world, with domestic consumption spreading over far beyond central areas and growing in various smaller regions and towns. Direct connectivity between US and Russian regional small business can be a growing reality with adequate support in information technology, knowledge, skills and work process flow.
Although much has been done, much is yet to do. Change does not occur overnight. The process of Russian small and medium size business "globalization" is largely contingent upon the Russian government’s desire to eliminate bureaucratic red tape that could inhibit commercial ventures. Further credit is due for its unremitting battle against corruption, a top priority, thus enhancing Russia’s image as a viable country in which to do business. Gone are the days of short-term profit takers, their carpetbagger practices replaced by strategic visionaries with long term investment, trade, production and business development plans.
While it is clear that opportunities exist for companies who wish to benefit from the most promising markets anywhere, it is likewise necessary for potential business partners to understand and appreciate cultural differences. It is an unfortunate fact that, historically, economic collaboration was a subject much discussed at length, but seldom acted upon in a meaningful or quantifiable manner. This was especially true with regard to new business development and joint ventures. But Russia, occupying one-eighth of the planet’s land mass, is simply too large to be ignored. With its many attractive resources, opportunities exist for American companies who desire to benefit from the most promising consumer markets anywhere in the world.
Like the ever-lengthening rays of sunshine presaging the coming of a new season, the word is spreading: Russia, with its educated work force, vast resources, and proximity to international markets, is open for business. A new era of growth, one characterized by the development of cooperation between small and medium size business between Russia and the United States, has begun, and mutual economic benefits are awaiting those who are able to stay the course.