Maturing democracies In Russia and other former Soviet Union states are creating strong demand for U.S. goods and services, international trade experts and exporters say.
“You go to Moscow these days and it doesn’t look much different than U.S. cities as far as the retail complexes,” said Charles Raether, a Washington-based international trade specialist with the Business Information Service for the Newly Independent States. “It just goes to show that the opportunities are there.”
The BISNIS is the U.S. Department of Commerce’s primary resource for U.S. companies exploring business opportunities in Russia and other newly independent states.
Raether was one of about 10 speakers and panelists who took part in a one-day trade conference entitled, “Identifying Business Opportunities in Russia, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine.” The conference was held Nov. 29 at Dickinson State University.
About 90 people – including 35 representatives from exporting companies – attended the conference, said Cherie Harms, Development Director of the North Dakota Trade Office.
Top “hot sectors” for U.S. exports to Russia, Kazakhstan and the Ukraine include agricultural equipment and chemicals, oil and gas equipment, mortgage financing and aircraft equipment. Sales of agricultural equipment to Russia are generating about $6 billion a year, Raether said.
“There is a tremendous need for agricultural equipment,” he said. “They’re just looking for reliable suppliers to provide product.
“Effective distribution systems are there,” he said.
The North Dakota Trade Office and its network of export service providers offer the resources businesses need to succeed in Russia and throughout the world, Raether said.
Companies considering export markets should take advantage of resources, choose their business partners carefully and take the time to develop strong business relationships, he said.
“I’m quite impressed by the infrastructure you have in North Dakota,” he said. “You’ve got a lot of resources already in place locally.”
Steven Dickinson, an attorney with expertise in international business, said the legal systems that protect buyers and sellers vary from country to country. But with preparation, North Dakota’s exporters can succeed in Russia and elsewhere, he said.
Dickinson practices law in the corporate and international groups of Fredrickson & Byron. The Minneapolis-based law firm specializes in a wide variety of domestic and international business transactions.
Other speakers included Alexander Slinko and Anatoly Lylov, professors from Veronezh State University in Russia.
Through an interpreter, Slinko said Russia is embracing change and encouraging greater education and business exchange with the United States.
Business leaders who attended the conference later took advantage of free one-on-one consultations with Dickinson, Raether and other export professionals.
Officials from two Fargo-based agricultural equipment companies said they have found success in Russia and neighboring countries, and they shared some of their experiences with the international marketplace.
“Russia has been a great place for Amity to do business,” said Brian Dahl, vice president of Amity Technology. “There’s been some missteps, but overall we’ve had great success.”
Amity Technology, recently named by Inc. Magazine as one of the fastest growing companies in the United States, manufactures sugar beet harvesters, fertilizer applicators and other agricultural equipment.
In the last four years, Amity has exported 300 beet harvesters to Russia and the Ukraine, Dahl said, taking part in the conference by phone.
Amity has built its export business over 15 years, sending company officials to Russia and neighboring countries about 200 times to develop strong business relationships. To cut costs, Amity went back to the drawing board and engineered the company’s beet harvesters so they can be taken apart to fit in standard shipping containers, Dahl said.
“They are in need of the equipment we make,” he said. “It has been a huge victory for our company.”
Peter Christianson, president of Fargo’s Titan Machinery, said his company is selling a significant amount of parts and used farm machinery in the Ukraine and Russia. Titan, the recipient of a national export achievement award in July, sells a full line of new and used farm equipment from a network of 22 dealerships.
“They are very interested in adopting our complete line of farming technologies,” he said. “We look forward to the future.”