Here is a short video clip from the 2007 World Economic Forum held last month in Davos, Switzerland (the next WEF will be held September 6-8, 2007 in the port of Dalian, China). The topic of the panel discussion was "Modern Russia: Strengths, Challenges and New Prospects - A Perspective from Business". The participants included:
Vladimir Evtushenkov, President and Chief Executive Officer, Sistema JSFC, Russia
Steve Forbes, President and Chief Executive Officer, Forbes, USA
E. Neville Isdell, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, The Coca-Cola Company, USA
Andrei L. Kostin, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Vneshtorbank (VTB) Russian Federation
James S. Turley, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Ernst & Young, USA
Lionel Barber, Editor, Financial Times, United Kingdom
Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev
Russian Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref
Click on the extended post to read what these leaders in global business had to say about modern Russia.
An interview with Ruben Vardanian, CEO of Troika Dialog, one of the largest investment banks in Russia. In this video, Mr. Vardanian talks about the creation of the Skolkovo School of Management, a new elite business school in Moscow
I think that the progress that has been made by Russia has been absolutely magnificent. We see it in our business, we see it in household disposable income, we see it in the growth of the middle class. People don't understand how fundamentally changed Russia is...however, and we're working on this within the foreign investment advisory council and the U.S.-Russia Business Council...I think that if there has been one failure in terms of Russian business, in terms of the Russian government, it is that they have not always been able to put the right face to the world, and therefore they have been looked at through negative eyes. That is a work in progress, there is more work to be done, shared by those who are invested in major ways as far as foreign companies in Russia, as well as Russia itself...
The Russian state is conducting the policy of the open economy. I can mention...there are more IPOs on the agenda for this year for such state owned companies like the Russian electrical power monopoly RAO UES [Unified Energy Systems]. So definitely the Russian government is conducting the policy of open economy and inviting foreign investors to participate in what used to be or still are very important, strategically important sectors of the economy...
I think that the question that is on everyone's mind out here [in the audience] is...is basically is Russia reliable? At the end of the investors that are there squarely feel that the country is very very reliable. We've done survey work, the FIAC as it's called, and the Russian government of today's investors. Overwhelmingly the investors are seeing greater growth in both top line and bottom line than they expected; greater growth than they're experiencing in many other emerging markets and overwhelmingly, these companies plan to invest more.
Having said that, they also say there are continuing problems in corruption, in administrative reforms, and what we take a lot of comfort in, is that the government is not hiding from these issues. The government is in fact taking the results of work yet to be done and sharing it publicly...
Former Republican presidential candidate Steve Forbes:
While in areas like energy and a couple of other strategic areas, the Russian State is playing and will play a large role, the key is if other parts of the economy are allowed to flourish - as happened a little bit in Japan, in South Korea, and especially and even in Taiwan, then Russia's future is great because it does have a tradition in math, in the sciences, engineering. If those intellectual resources are free and allowed to flourish, than Russia will become a mighty economy in the global economy. That was the vision of our original [Russia] editor Paul Klebnikov...he saw these forces rising up. So don't just focus on oil and energy, which gets the headlines. There's a whole lot of other things going on and that's what we've been trying to write about in the magazine.