The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia held a briefing on January 20 with John Tefft, U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation. Ambassador Tefft spoke on the current state of U.S.-Russia relations and addressed questions from AmCham members on the economic, political and investment climate in Russia and the prospects for 2015 and beyond.
The event was moderated by AmCham Russia President Alexis Rodzianko. Over 200 AmCham member company executives attended the briefing at the St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya hotel.
[main photograph from left (click to enlarge): John Tefft, U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation; Alexis Rodzianko, President of AmCham Russia]
In an interview published on January 19, AmCham President Alexis Rodzianko spoke with Kommersant about some of the problems expected in 2015 by major international companies, in particular companies headquartered in the U.S.
Mr. Rodzianko made the point that a minority of companies are considering pulling out of the Russian market, which has become attractive in terms of exports due to the devaluation of the Russian ruble. He also stressed the need to maintain a focus on business. "We want the emotional aspect of the U.S.-Russia relationship to have less impact on business, and want people to calmly and objectively assess opportunities to invest in Russia - we're working to that end," he said.
The online version of the interview can be found on the Kommersant website.
In December, a delegation of AmCham member executives met with Vartan Khachaturov, Deputy Head of the Infrastructure Projects Department, RF Ministery of Communications and Mass Media, to discuss issues related to the Federal Law No. 242-FZ on the storage of personal data. The delegation, comprising senior representatives of Delta Airlines, P&G, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, American Express, Western Union, Citi, Paypal, and GE, raised a number of issues, such as the definition of "personal data," the "depersonalization" of data that is transferred and stored abroad, and special legal regimes for banks. A month previous, a delegation of AmCham executives participated in a round table with Alexei Sokolov, Deputy Minister of Communications and Mass Media, and other Ministry officials.
The law stipulates that operators - both Russian and foreign legal entities and individuals - of web resources, through which personal data of Russian citizens are collected, are required to ensure that the databases used to record, systemize, accumulate, store, amend, update and retrieve data are located in Russia. Adopted on July 21, 2014, the law was originally due to enter into force on September 1, 2016, but may now enter into force on September 1, 2015, following a recent proposal put forward by the RF State Duma. AmCham is planning a series of future meetings with State Duma legislators and MinSvyaz officials to ensure the continued engagement and involvement of AmCham businesses.
The Chamber's Innovation & Technology Committee has held several events dedicated to the law. On December 12, Committee members heard a presentation by Arseny Siedov (Partner, Baker & McKenzie), who spoke on key implications of the law for business and the latest developments with respect to scope, implimentation and enforcement. To receive the presentation, please contact AmCham at email@example.com. The event follows on from an October 6 Committee meeting, where over 120 members gathered at the Swissôtel Krasnye Holmy Moscow to hear legal presentations by AmCham member company lawyers.
On Tuesday, December 9, American Chamber of Commerce hosted a 3-hour briefing session focused on Cyber Security and Personal Data Protection. Two key speakers, Uliana Zinina, Regulatory Affairs Attorney at Microsoft Russia, and Ilya Sachkov, CEO, Group-IB, presented their views on current trends to over 40 experts from AmCham member-companies. The meeting was moderated by Dmitry Budanov, CEO, Elite Security. Presentations were followed by an open discussion. During the event, participants covered a number of relevant issues and challenges, including details and practical implications of recent legislative changes related to Personal Data Storage in Russia. Please contact AmCham at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the speakers’ presentations.
AmCham president and CEO Alexis Rodzianko spoke at the plenary session of the “It’s Time for Moscow” forum for foreign media on December 8-11, 2014 in Moscow. Leaders of international businesses and business associations were invited to discuss prospects of business development in Moscow in current economic environment. They covered such topics as investment climate in Moscow, the impact of sanctions, drivers for Moscow development and strategies for 2015, points of growth and most attractive sectors. In his remarks, Mr. Rodzianko noted that although sanctions may create an impression that it is no longer possible to do business in Russia, the sanctions are actually set out very clearly. He noted; however, that in the current environment, international companies operating in Russia would likely accelerate plans to localize production. Mr. Rodzianko stressed that going forward, the Chamber will strive to help AmCham member companies to continue developing their business in Russia.
The Forum audience included media representatives from 26 countries – Germany, France, UK, Austria, India, China, Greece and others. The event was arranged by the Department for External Economic and International Relations of the Moscow City Government, RBC Media Holding, and the World Trade Center Moscow.
AmCham held its Annual Holiday Party on December 6 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Moscow. Over 200 AmCham executives enjoyed the event, which featured a gourmet four-course Ritz-Carlton meal and a host of top-class entertainment, including the ever-popular Elki Orchestra, the "Etti" Show - Traditional Music & Dance of the People of the North, the Orange-Juggling Clowns, the "Russian Style" Orchestra, and Santa Claus himself! AmCham would like to thank major sponsor MasterCard; general sponsors Access Industries, Amsted Rail, and Chevron; raffle sponsor Delta; decorate sponsor Holiday Classics; technical sponsors K.F.P, spirits sponsors Jack Daniel's; and beverage sponsor Coca-Cola.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia recently took part in the 6th Annual All-Russian Business Forum “Business Climate in Russia” in Ulyanovsk. AmCham President and CEO Alexis Rodzianko and AmCham SME Director Egor Zaostrovtsev participated in the event, held in Ulyanovsk on December 4-5. They were accompanied by representatives of AmCham member companies who also came to Ulyanovsk to participate in the Forum. The audience of the Forum consisted of representatives of Federal and regional authorities of the Russian Federation as well as businesses and business associations. The AmCham representatives spoke in two plenary sessions and worked with other business experts in thematical sections of the 2d conference “Foreign economic activity as a factor of effective development of subjects of the Russian Federation" arranged within the frameworks of the business forum. Egor Zaostrovtsev delivered a presentation about AmCham activities in Russia focused on supporting the development of small- and medium-sized businesses and promoting localization of American companies in Russia. In particular, he told about Business Fair for small and medium business with more than 250 participants - held in Moscow in October 2014 - and new AmCham initiatives for small and medium business in upcoming year. AmCham presentations were met with interest by the event participants and attracted attention of the media.
Alexis Rodzianko, President & CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, has spoken several times recently on RBC's "Delo" program, commenting on a range of topical issues, including current trade relations between the U.S. and Russia, and barriers to investing in Russia.
Two recent interviews, aired on November 19 and October 21, are available to view in the AmCham website's new media section AmCham on YouTube.
AmCham would like to remind members that the RF Ministry of Economic Development can solicit 5-year Russian Business Visas for employees of large foreign companies investing in the manufacturing sector in Russia, and companies involved in the creation of the Skolkovo Innovation Center and International Financial Center.
Please click here to download an information letter prepared by the Ministry, or click on the document link (right). The file is in .pdf format.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia held its annual Tax Conference on November 18 at the Baltschug Kempinski Hotel in Moscow. Following opening remarks by AmCham President & CEO Alexis Rodzianko, RF Deputy Minister of Finance Sergey Shatalov briefed over 125 AmCham executives on recent and planned changes to Russian tax policy designed to promote business development in the short- and medium-term.
[Photograph: RF Deputy Minister of Finance Sergey Shatalov addresesing over 125 AmCham executives on November 18]
Following Mr. Shatalov's remarks, eight AmCham member company tax experts presented on a wide range of important issues. Presentations were made by Vladimir Elizarov (Deloitte), Vladimir Konstantinov (PwC), Arseny Seidov (Baker & McKenzie), Victor Matchekhin (Linklaters), Art Franczek (American Institute of Business and Economics), Ivan Rodionov (EY), Gennadiy Timonichev (Pepeliaev Group), and Sergei Voropaev (Deloitte).
AmCham thanks EY and MasterCard for sponsoring the event.
Kyle Davis (Partner, Goltsblat BLP) briefed members on the Corker-Menendez Bill - legislation that imposes broad sanctions on Russia’s defense, energy, and financial sectors, and increases military and non-military assistance for Ukraine. The legislation was unanimously passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 18 having been introduced by Chairman Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Ranking Member Bob Corker (R-TN).
Following the discussion of U.S. sanctions, Fredrik Svensson and Fredrik Ringquist (Partner and Senior Associate, Mannheimer Swartling) spoke on the potential lapse of EU Sanctions in July 2015 and the terms and conditions necessary for it to happen.
Over 70 AmCham executives filled the AmCham conference room to capacity for the event, which was moderated by AmCham President & CEO Alexis Rodzianko.
AmCham Member Sanctions Analysis is a new section of the AmCham website that provides a platform for AmCham members to share their analysis of sanctions against Russia. The section will be updated on an ongoing basis to reflect new developments and will serve as an information resource to help AmCham member companies guage the potential impact on their business operations in Russia.
U.S. Treasury Hotline on Operation of U.S. Sanctions
AmCham members with specific questions regarding the operations of U.S. sanctions related to the Ukraine crisis may use the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) compliance hotline at 1.800.540.6322 or present inquiries for formal interpretive guidance by e-mail to email@example.com.
Looking for an article you saw on the front page of the AmCham website but can no longer find it? Check out the AmCham Front Page Archive.