It is a coincidence that Russia’s long-awaited accession to the World Trade Organisation last August was followed by mounting concerns about a slowdown in economic growth.
The news out of Russia tends to paint a dark picture of a country and its leader.
Away from the headlines, however, changes of another sort are taking place – less talked about in the press but no less real for the businesses that have ridden Russia’s boom, bust and recovery under president Vladimir Putin.
"Since the economic downturn of 2009 there has been a new openness to foreign business, says Philippe Pegorier, country president and general director of French engineering giant Alstom, who has experienced the changes in Russia for 30 years. “There is a real will at the top to modernise infrastructure and industry, and to fight corruption,” says Mr Pegorier"
Frank Schauff, head of the Association of European Businesses, which represents more than 600 big companies in Russia, believes the crisis taught the Kremlin that it could only get ahead in co-operation with foreigners. “
Joerg Schreiber, president and managing director of Mazda Motor Russia, concurs: “We have seen a shift in the attitude to foreign business. It’s one thing to say on paper it’s a good thing, another to embrace it and let it merge and mingle with local business.”
Japanese carmaker Nissan now employs just eight Japanese and nine British staff. The factory, which opened in 2009, won the company’s global quality award last year.
Related resource: Ernst & Young attractiveness report:
Russia is shaping its future:
Shaping Russia’s future, finds that, although it still faces some challenges, Russia remains an attractive destination for FDI.
There is a substantial gap between the perceptions of current and prospective investors. Those who are already working in Russia are more aware of the country’s real investment climate and the efforts being made to improve it.