The conference room where the Russian British Business Forum was taking place on 29th November 2017, was full of people: companies, both from the UK and Russia, politicians, all those interested in an update on the current relations between the two countries. The one-day programme was full-on as well and if you missed it, it would be impossible to give a detailed summary of the forum in a blog article.
Nonetheless, a few observations are worth a mention.
In 2017 the trade turnover between the countries increased for the first time in the last three years. This is despite enormous negative publicity Russia has been receiving, and forum speakers expressed a need to establish straight-forward communication between the two countries. The trade growth materialised also in defiance of the EU sanctions in place against Russia and the participants warned that once Britain left the EU, it would be vital to find common ground with Russia to prevent the continuation of Britain losing out and becoming isolated.
Brexit is expected to present many new opportunities for Russian and British businesses and panellists representing a number of SMEs were very positive about building on the links already established and taking the prospects on to a new, higher level. More than 600 British companies already operate in Russia today and representatives of some of the Russian regions highlighted key areas which may be of interest to UK companies looking to expand into the Russian market.
One thing the forum certainly achieved is it served as an open platform for dialogue about the challenges we face and ways forward in an attempt to break away from the tunnel vision which is so often adopted. My general feeling is that similar events should continue: on a regional level, through local chambers of commerce, the Department for International Trade; at the end of the day successful trade isn’t known to damage our economies or prosperity. Quite on the contrary.
Some Russian companies came to this event in London because it gave them access to VIP business people and a chance to discuss business there and then.
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