AmCham's Innovation & Technology Committee met on March 27 to discuss market trends and business issues affecting the IT sector.
Robert Farish, Vice President, IDC Russia/CIS, presented the ICT market results for 2014 and a forecast for 2015; Alexander Onishchuk, President, RATEK (Association of Trading Companies and Manufacturers of Electrical Household and Computer Equipment), provided an updated on Federal Law 242 on the storage and processing of personal data of Russian citizens; and Natalya Loseva, Project Manager / Professional Employment Services Manager, Acsour, presented the results of a survey conducted by Acsour in February 2015 to determine how IT companies are reacting to the current economic situation.
The event was co-moderated by AmCham President & CEO Alexis Rodzianko; and AmCham Innovation & Technology Committee co-chairs Ron Lewin (Managing Director, TerraLink Technologies) and Gary Fowler (Co-Founder, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Evangelist, GVA LaunchGurus). Over 100 AmCham executives participated in the event at the Intercontinental Moscow Tverskaya Hotel.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia held a further meeting on March 17 devoted to Russia-related sanctions. A capacity group of AmCham executives heard analysis from Alexander Bychkov (Partner, Baker & McKenzie), Varvara Knutova (Head of Group, Dispute Resolution, Goltsblat BLP), and William Muntean (Chief, Trade and Investment Unit, Economic Section, U.S. Embassy).
EU sanctions - revision & extension: As follow-up to the meeting, Alexander Bychkov of Baker & McKenzie has provided AmCham with an update on the revision of EU sanctions and extension mechanisms.
Earlier on February 5, the Chamber held a similar event dedicated to Crimean sanctions. Shane DeBeer (Partner, Dechert LLP) gave a legal overview of U.S. sanctions regarding Crimea, after which Alexander Chmelev (Partner, Baker & McKenzie - CIS, Limited) spoke on the practical implications of the sanctions and the risks arising due to conflicts between Russian laws and the prohibitions and restrictions imposed by the sanctions. The slide presentations are available to download in .pdf format: Dechert | Baker & McKenzie
The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia held a briefing on March 20 with Nikolai Komlev, Executive Director of APKIT (Information & Computer Technologies Industry Association / Ассоциации Предприятий Компьютерных и Информационных Технологий). Mr. Komlev discussed a range of issues of concern to business, in particular the law on storage of personal data, restrictions on the purchase of foreign software by Russian state organizations, and the waste management law. A question and answer session was moderated by AmCham President & CEO Alexis Rodzianko. Over 75 member company executives filled the Chamber's conference room to capacity for the event.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia held a round table event last night on the protection of IP rights through customs within the Eurasian Economic Union.
The event featured a high-level panel of speakers including Alexis Rodzianko (President & CEO, AmCham Russia), Samat Aliev (Deputy Head, Business Development Department, Eurasian Economic Commission), Sergey Shurygin (Head of the Intellectual Property Enforcement Department, RF Federal Customs Service), David Aylen (Managing Partner, Gowlings Russia / CIS), Eugene Arievich (Principal, Baker & McKenzie CIS Limited), and Alexander Christophoroff (Partner, IP Litigation, Gowlings Russia / CIS). Over 75 executives participated, including members of both AmCham Russia and INTA. The discussion was followed by an informal networking session.
The event, which was hosted by the St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya and sponsored by Gowlings, served as the pre-meeting reception ahead of the International Trademark Association's (INTA's) 137th annual meeting to be held in San Diego in early May.
Media coverage: Eurasian Economic Commission
On March 12, AmCham President & CEO Alexis Rodzianko participated in a meeting with Sergey Naryshkin, Chairman of the RF State Duma, and the heads of other foreign business associations and major foreign companies operating in Russia. Among the participants were Glenn Waller (President, ExxonMobil Russia Inc.), Joerg Bongartz (Chairman of the Board, Deutsche Bank Russia), Maurizio Patarnello (CEO, Nestle Russia and Eurasia Region), Silviu Popovich (Managing Director, PepsiCo Russia), and Zoran Vucinic (President, Russia, Ukraine & Belarus Business Unit, The Coca-Cola Company).
One of the major issues discussed was the RF Law on Protection of Personal Data, which has been causing concern to many businesses. In his remarks on the topic, Alexis Rodzianko noted that the business community has requested that the law be postponed, given that the corresponding regulatory acts have not net been finalized. "Without the necessary regulations the law is open to interpretation," he cautioned.
On March 11, Alexis Rodzianko, President & CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, participated in the 2015 InvestRus International Conference for Investment Growth in Russia. The event was held under the auspices of the Investment Council of Sergey Naryshkin, Chairman of the RF State Duma. Some of the key issues raised were: identifying new sources of investment in a crisis environment; improving the legislative framework for investment; employing regional best practices; and defining new opportunities for mutual investment within the Eurasian Economic Union.
[photographs from left: Sergey Naryshkin, Chairman of the RF State Duma; Andrey Nikitin, General Director, Agency for Strategic Initiatives; Alexis Rodzianko, President & CEO, AmCham Russia]
The American Chamber of Commerce served as an information partner of the conference.
"Alexei Pushkov’s appeal to McDonalds and Coca-Cola, which he published in his microblog on Twitter, looks counterproductive," said President & CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia Alexis Rodzianko in his comments to "The Russian News Service" (РСН). Mr. Rodzianko went on to make the point that politics should be taken out of the business relationship between Russia and the US.
"We do our best not to interfere in the relationships between the two countries and to continue to do business, which benefits both parties. As I understand, this position is welcomed by both the Russian and American governments," he said.
Mr. Rodzianko said that by proposing that the largest American companies leave the Russian market, Mr. Pushkov was attacking his own economy. "Both Coca-Cola and McDonald's are Russian companies. They provide a wide range of food, products and services to their customers in Russia, and most are produced here in Russia. These are the companies whose business activities benefit not only the companies themselves, but the Russian consumer. They pay a lot of taxes and conduct their business openly and transparently."
Mr. Rodzianko noted that after the introduction of U.S. sanctions practically all American companies continued to operate in Russia.
Click here to read the article in Russian.
Anna Kozlovskaya, Public Affairs and Communications Director at The Coca-Cola Company, Russia, Ukraine & Belarus, and member of the AmCham Russia Board of Directors, commented that Mr. Pushkov’s call to Coca-Cola and McDonald's to save Russia from its products, and thereby support U.S. sanctions against Russia - sounds populist and contradicts the position of the Russian government to attract investment and create new jobs for the Russian economy.
Click here to read Ms. Kozlovskaya's comments in full.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia and its President and CEO Alexis Rodzianko were deeply saddened to hear about the criminal shooting and death of Boris Nemtsov. We would like to offer our deepest sympathy to his relatives and friends. Boris Nemtsov will be remembered as an outstanding Russian politician and statesman - a true friend of his country.
В связи с трагической гибелью Бориса Немцова Американская Торговая Палата в России и ее глава Алексис Родзянко выражают искренние соболезнования и слова поддержки родным и близким покойного, понесшим тяжелую утрату. Борис Немцов останется в нашей памяти как яркий российский политик и государственный деятель, живший интересами своей страны.
The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, in collaboration with the U.S.-Russia Business Council (USRBC), held a special business event on February 18 - "The Eurasian Economic Union: Broadening Markets for Business" - with a delegation of officials from the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC). The delegation was led by Viktor Khristenko, Chairman of the EEC and former RF Minister of Industry & Trade (2008-2012) and RF Minister of Industry & Energy (2004-2008).
Mr. Khristenko made a keynote address on the work of the EEC, after which remarks were made by AmCham Russia President & CEO Alexis Rodzianko, USRBC President & CEO Daniel Russell, and AmCham Armenia President Tigran Jrbashyan. Following were three panel discussions focusing on technical regulations, customs issues, and issues specific to manufacturing and agriculture.
Over 200 AmCham executives attended the five-hour event, which was sponsored by GE, Microsoft and Pfizer and hosted by the Swissôtel Krasnye Holmy Moscow.
[photograph from left: Daniel Russell (USRBC), Viktor Khristenko (EEC), Alexis Rodzianko (AmCham Russia), Tigran Jrbashyan (AmCham Armenia) - click to enlarge]
Please click here to view the event agenda (in .pdf format)
During a recent meeting of the AmCham NGO-Corporate Partnership (NGO-CP) Committee, co-chairs Tatiana Avramenko (Citi) and Tatiana Zadirako (United Way of Russia) reported respectively on 2014 committee activities and the latest trends in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in 2014 and the prognosis for the future. As a follow-up to the meeting, which attracted a large turnout of both member NGOs and corporations, Tatiana Zadirako has submitted an article on the priority tasks and challenges for the non-commercial sector in 2015. Please click here to read the article (in Russian).
The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia held a seminar on January 28 titled "The Impact of the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA): Why You MUST Act Now."
Following opening remarks by AmCham President Alexis Rodzianko, presentations were made by Simon Littmoden (Business Development, Providence Life), Ksenia Pavlova (Manager, US Tax Desk, EY), Natalia Nikolaeva (Acting President, ZAO Citibank), and William Offen (Country Manager - Russian Federation, deVere). The event, which was sponsored by deVere Group, attracted over 40 AmCham executives at the St. Regis Moscow Nikolskaya Hotel.
[photographs from left (click to enlarge): Simon Littmoden (Providence Life), Ksenia Pavlova (EY), Natalia Nikolaeva (Citibank), William Offen (deVere), Alexis Rodzianko (AmCham Russia)]
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.
When asked about the impact of current Russia-U.S. relations on business, Mr. Rodzianko acknowledged that sanctions are creating constraints, but made the point that many U.S. and other international companies have localized their Russian operations to such an extent that no level of sanctions will bring their businesses to a halt. He suggested that some companies may even benefit from sanctions, which have in some industries helped to reduce competition.
The online version of the interview can be found on the Novie Izvestiya 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.
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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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