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— Alexander Ivanovich, the Saint Petersburg display for 2001 at the BAUFACH fair is the fourth. The fair itself was marked as a priority for the city by decision of the Council on Fairs and Trade Shows of the Saint Petersburg Administration. We’d like to talk about the display itself a bit later, if you don’t mind. Right now we’d like to know more about the results of the show held in Leipzig two years ago. — That show was quite a success for us. Remember that this fair, considered a bridge to the construction markets of Central and Eastern Europe, had a collective Russian stand contributed to by 24 construction companies from various parts of the country, from Siberia, Chelyabinsk, Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The Petersburg delegation was the most impressive. Judge for yourself: half of the Russian participants came from Petersburg. Such major companies as Housing Construction Plant No. 3, Kamennogorsky building materials plant, and the Petersburg Construction Center participated in the last Leipzig fair. As results of the 1999 Germany trip we can note that German specialists and other visitors to the fair were interested primarily in Petersburg technology for producing finishing stone from fine granite and artificial granite. Petersburg builders were successful in demonstrating monolithic housing construction. Representatives of the Stroyproekt firm told of their experience building bridges in St. Petersburg, and the road builders from Dorservis — Saint Petersburg told of how they use new technologies to build roads. — Reconstruction and restoration of old buildings was one of the hot topics discussed at last year’s Leipzig fair «Monument 2000». This is especially pertinent to Petersburg… — Of course there are many such historical buildings in Petersburg’s city center. They must not only be preserved for posterity, but also be made easy to live in. The program for reconstruction of the city’s historical center carried out by the city with funding from the World Bank fulfils this function. At the same time, participation in international construction exhibitions is the best way to attract attention from the international business world in this kind of major social-purpose project. In short, realization of the program of reconstructing the city’s historical center is successful. Pilot projects such as «Courtyards of the Capella» and the «130th Block» and the first stage of reconstruction of Nevsky Prospekt have been completed, and reports have been submitted to lenders. Today we are discussing a new installment of loans from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. — What is different about this Leipzig fair? — First of all, it will be the last one before the city’s 300th anniversary (but not the last ever), which places a certain responsibility on managers and members of the Petersburg delegation to demonstrate Petersburg’s investment opportunities. We are certainly aided by the fact that there is now more interest in Petersburg among investors today than ever before, for example, five years ago. There are a few reasons for this. The Petersburg tercentenary is on the UNESCO list of celebrations. That’s one. Persident Putin often meets with state guests in the city on the Neva, which always gets the city into the world news. That’s another. The investment climate in Petersburg is warming up with every year, if we may use that analogy, and that’s a major achievement of the city’s administration. This is yet another reason why Petersburg numbers among international capitals. Last year, for example, the amount of foreign investment in the city’s economy was more than one billion dollars. Some of the major investments are the project for construction of the Southwest waste treatment facilities, construction of hotels in the city center, the project for construction of an industrial waste processing plant, etc. Some of the «anniversary» sites for the city are the Ring Road (we finally received adequate financing from the federal budget for construction of a ring road), the Petersburg flood protection structures, as well as a number of federal ministry and agency buildings in need of reconstruction. The next fair is also different because it includes even more specialized new technologies. In this case we’re talking about telecommunications and information technologies for planning and managing construction. Telecommunications are playing an even greater role in many fields of the construction industry for processing documents, transferring money, and in exchange of information. Planners, builders, suppliers and, of course, clients benefit from the ability to use modern management and economic tools. There are currently more than 100,000 people employed in the construction industry in Petersburg. In order to handle the planned volume of work we will not increase the number of workers, but introduce new technologies, use modern equipment and mechanisms. The main emphasis will be on re-equipping builders. — Russia Day was the key to the last exhibit for the Petersburg delegation. What about this time? — Yes, the 1999 fair included a seminar entitled «Building in Russia» where Russian builders shared their experience with foreign colleagues. The conversation was quite interesting. This is proof of the genuine interest of Europeans in the development of the Russian construction industry. As the fair’s organizers promise, it is likely that this year Russia will be the forum’s main foreign participant. Opportunities to cooperate in construction and joint investments will be in the forefront. A collective Russian stand based on the regional principle has been created with support from the State Duma and the Russian Federation State Construction Ministry. The stand will include displays from Moscow, Tatarstan, Karelia, Nizhny Novgorod, Perm, Samara and, of course, Saint Petersburg. I hope that our display, like last time’s, will be one of the best. There is a Russia Day in the program of this year’s fair. This day will see seminars and roundtables on themes vital to the city. There will also be a meeting of the working group of construction ministries of European countries to discuss maintaining housing and modernizing panel houses, topics that are quite important to Petersburg, for example in restoring the Khruschev era housing and old communal apartments. Today Petersburg is carrying out reconstruction programs for panel housing built in the 1960s, and also relocating inhabitants of communal apartments in old buildings. This could be done more quickly, but with the help of foreign experience. On Russia Day Petersburg builders will visit buildings under construction in Leipzig, and will view construction firms. This is also very useful since, as the saying goes, it’s better to see something once than hear about it a hundred times. — And the last question. As a leader of the Petersburg delegation what kind of results to you expect this time from BAUFACH? — Participation in fairs never brings immediate results that can be measured in meters, kilograms and cash. The fair is mainly for communication and establishing partnership relations. We must learn to trust each other and to speak the same language; the language of the market and commerce. It takes years to forge trust. At the same time, I can’t rule out the possibility that concrete business agreements will be signed at the fair for future development on the banks of the Neva. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the fair’s organizers for their invitation to visit such a representative forum, and would like to wish the fair’s participants fruitful negotiations.
Vladimir ARTEMIEV, Vadim SIMONOVSKY
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