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Main | Archive | Issue 2/2008

Unbelievable Opportunities for Development
Column: Under The Sign Of Mercury

In Moscow Bernd Pantze is the new chief representative of Bavaria in Russia. He granted his first interview since becoming it to the magazine Diplomat.

Mr. Pantze, you were the head of the Russia department at the Bavarian State Ministry of Economic Affairs for many years. Given the immense experience you gained, what do you think the prospects for trade and bilateral economic relations are?
Indeed, after 37 years of working in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, 17 of them heading the department of foreign economic affairs with Eastern Europe, I was appointed chief representative of the Free State of Bavaria in Russia on October 1, 2007. Together with Mikhail Logvinov, the former Consul General of Russia in Munich, I now head the Bavarian office in Moscow. Here we can use our extensive knowledge of Bavaria and its economy as well as our extensive ties with the Russian side.

Bavaria was the first federal state of Germany to open a representative office of its own in Moscow 13 years ago. After signing an agreement on cooperation in April 1999, former Prime Minister Edmund Stoibe and Mayor Yury Luzhkov announced there would be much cooperation between Bavaria and Moscow. Ever since, the Bavarian ministers of Economic Affairs Dr. Otto Wiesheu, Erwin Huber and the incumbent minister Emilia Mller have successfully promoted this cooperation. Between 2000 and 2006, the goods turnover rose 3.5 times to 8.4 billion. In the first nine months of 2007, Bavarias exports to Russia increased by 46 percent, which means that in 2007 it will be even greater. High-quality Bavarian goods and consultancy services are in great demand. In 2007, mechanical engineering had a two-digit growth rate for the first time. Russian customers are very familiar with companies such as Siemens, KNAUF, AUDI, BMW, Rehau, Ehrmann, Hochland, Adidas, Allianz, and Knorr-Bremse. In Eastern Europe, Russia, and especially Moscow, are Bavarias most important partners.

Moscow is a rapidly developing city. Along with the Moscow Region, the Russian capital plays a key role in the Russian economy. At the renowned Expo Real exhibition in Munich Moscow and other Russian regions have year after year presented very interesting real estate projects and opportunities for development on an unbelievable scale.

In Russia all sorts of opportunities await those entrepreneurs who realize and take advantage of these opportunities. Russia is not only an important buyer for us.. It is also interesting as an object of long-term investment. The accumulated investments from Bavaria have reached at least 1.5 billion, and together with them came excellent technologies. One-third of the 4,500 German companies operating in Russia are Bavarian firms, 800 of them are located in Moscow. We are happy with Russian investments in Bavaria as well. The Moscow business center in Unterschleissheim near Munich is the first project of its kind. The Russian economy is increasingly interacting with European Union member countries. Bavaria offers an ideal environment for doing business in Europe.

How would it be possible to make the business partnership more effective?
The year 2007 confirmed Bavarias leading role in German-Russian cooperation yet again. The cordial reception accorded Prime Minister Dr. Edmund Stoibe and State Minister Erwin Huber by President Vladimir Putin in July last year gave Bavarian entrepreneurs added opportunities to get a firmer foothold in the Russian market. Together with mostly mid-sized businesses from such sectors as IT, transportation management systems, construction, infrastructure, energy, environmental technologies, healthcare, aviation and aeronautics we would like to keep developing and deepening our cooperation. Of special importance to us is the implementation of such projects as the reconstruction of the Lefortovo district and the Vnukovo airport, the construction of ten three-star hotels, the use of the cadastre system in city planning as well as the introduction of an integrated transportation management system and traffic safety in Moscow and the Moscow Region.

Of course, a lot still remains to be done. Red tape, corruption, changing laws, complicated and costly certification, and customs problems... And yet, progress has been made. In any case, the Bavaria representative office in Moscow will continue to help medium-sized companies doing business in Russia. The six-year-long experience of holding meetings under the Bavarian flag by our Moscow office has so far made it possible to attract interesting partners from important Russian government departments and nongovernmental organizations.

The 10th Moscow Beer Festival slated for June and the 11th Days of the Bavarian Economy in Moscow from July 9 to 11 as well as the 5th Days of the Moscow Economy to be held in Munich from October 6-9 will be the highlights of the year 2008. Moreover, there will be the sixth meeting of the Intergovernmental Bavaria-Moscow Commission. Bayern-International is planning two trips to Moscow and Samara for entrepreneurs. At the five exhibitions to be held in Moscow, St. Petersburg and Kazan, Bavaria will be represented by common stands of Bavarian companies.

In a word, numerous interesting events lie ahead.

-, 2006