Germani and St. Petersburg economical and trade relationships. Dr. Stephan Stein answers our questions

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Dr. StePHan Stein was born in 1946. Graduated from the Technical University in Berlin. Mr. Stein is a Music Historian and a Master of Arts. Dr. Stephan Stein currently heads the St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad missions of Hamburgs Chamber of Commerce, and the St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad Branches of the German Economic Delegation to Russia. When was the House of German Economy established in St. Petersburg, and whats its mission? First of all, we operate similar economic representations in 81 countries world-wide. Wherever we are, our mission is to promote and coordinate economic links between Germany and the other nation. The collapse of the Soviet Union opened new opportunities for us in Russia. Like Germany, St. Petersburg is on the Baltic Sea, so development of economic and trade links with Russias northern capital is of primary importance to Germany. It was only logical that a House of German Economy was established here 10 years ago, earlier than the one in Moscow. Back then, the late Anatoly Sobchak and the incumbent President of Russia Vladimir Putin were both in the St. Petersburg government. They realized very early how critical it was for the city to have good ties with Germany in the new historical epoch. Sobchak and Putin were highly instrumental in paving the way for German capital in St. Petersburg. It is a fact that Germanys largest and most significant investments in St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region were made in those years. There are four Houses of German Economy in Russia: in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kaliningrad and Novosibirsk. I am at the helm of the German Economic Missions here and in Kaliningrad. Incidentally, Kaliningrad is geographically closer to Berlin than to Moscow. Theres a lot of work to be done. North-western Russia is five times bigger than all of Germany. We perform economic analyses that testify to this regions enormous economic potential overall, and as far as German-Russian cooperation is concerned. Is there a lot of business going on between Russian and German construction companies and construction products manufacturers? Let me reiterate that Russia and Germany are strategic partners. Most of Russias energy exports go to Germany. In its turn, Germany exports a diverse range of products to Russia, including consumer goods, materials and technology. As for cooperation in the field of construction and construction materials, I always cite Pobeda/Knauf as a prime example. For many years, Pobeda/Knauf has been doing business successfully in Russia, launching new manufacturing facilities, investing and reinvesting hundreds of millions of German Mark in Russia, and generally exemplifying how business can and should be done in this country. We should not, however, overlook small German businesses seeking to launch Russian operations. The presence of German property developers in St. Petersburg is crucial now, when the Northern capital is priming itself for its upcoming high-profile anniversary in 2003. We would like to build some medium-range hotels here, which are badly needed in the city. Our companies boast a great deal of expertise and technology for attic remodeling, as well as restoration and face-lifting of apartment blocks. We note with satisfaction that President Putin is doing his best to turn Russia into a wholesome, fully viable economy, to civilize it according to Western standards. It seems that the time when the only term that could possibly apply to Russian regional markets was barbarianism, is gone forever. It is a great cause for optimism that Russias legislative authorities have, at long last, learned to work together in perfect accord with the executive authorities. The prospects look very good for our two nations. How are German com-panies involved in preparing St. Petersburg for its upcoming 300th anniversary? For me, St. Petersburgs tercentenary is a personal highlight. Ive come from Hamburg, St. Petersburgs sister city. I am currently hosting Hamburgs special envoy here, whose mission is to make preparations for the imminent festivities. So far, we have several Hamburg-St. Petersburg bonding events planned. Firstly, we have plans to give the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Hall a German grand piano. Secondly, during the May 2003 festivities, we will set up a likeness of a Hamburg Fish Market on the street next to the House of German Economy to give St. Petersburgers a feel of this routine Hamburg street phenomenon. Thirdly, we will be holding an exhibition titled A Dream about a City on the seashore at the Peter and Paul Fortress, dedicated to German port cities. Finally, Lenexpo will be hosting a humungous exhibit for German companies to let them showcase their products, services and achievements in St. Petersburg. There is more to our anniversary program, but certain things should not be mentioned prematurely. In your opinion, what should the exhibiting policy be like for those St. Petersburg companies seeking to become truly a part of the European business community? To the best of our belief, the easiest way to set up international business links is to attend international industrial trade shows, specifically, construction/property development forums. Based on our experience, this is the best way to assess the needs and wants of your potential customers and partners, and thus gain a foothold in a new market. I always say: if a company can afford at least a minimum display stand, it should always showcase its products and services. With a savvy exhibiting policy, this investment will pay back multifold. Where a company is unable to put up its own stand due to some overpowering financial or technical impediments, companies must join forces to exhibit together, or at least attend exhibits as visitors or members of official delegations. Its an essential marketing practice that St. Petersburg companies have been increasingly aware of. Your advice to the St. Petersburg delegation at BAUFACH-2001. St. Petersburg is one of the largest and most beautiful cities in Europe, and its getting to look better every day. Roads and buildings are being renovated, and new impressive properties are being built. I believe your delegation has a lot to show and see in Leipzig. Most importantly, though, St. Petersburgs attendance at BAUFACH-2001 will be highly conducive to better ties between Germany and Russia. Our friendship is a crucial factor of peace and stability in Europe and the rest of the world.

: 12.11.2001
Dr. Stephan Stein was interviewed by Alexander Simonovsky
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