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U.S.-Russia Business Council: expanding and enhancing the U.S.-Russian commercial relationship

 

The U.S.-Russia Business Council, a Washington-based nonprofit trade association, that represents interests of its members —more than 260 companies involved in U.S.-Russian trade and investment. International Library Information and Analytical Center has been our member since 1999, and we are impressed with the work they do in developing educational, scientific, cultural and business cooperation between Russia and CIS countries, and the USA

The Council was formed in early 1993 by our Chairman Ambassador Bob Strauss and President Eugene Lawson. Since then, the Council has grown from 23 member companies to about 260 now. Our membership includes virtually every major player in the U.S.-Russia commercial relationship.

Although, originally our members were only U.S. companies working in Russia, during last few years a number of Russian companies joined the USRBC. Among them, there are companies Yukos, Aeroflot, Sberbank, MDM Bank, IBS, Vimpelcom, Russian Aluminum, TNK and others.

Guided by member interests, the Council promotes an economic environment in which U.S. and Russian business can succeed in a challenging Russian market. Through a range of activities, we contribute to stability and the development of a free market in Russia and support Russia’s integration into the global economy.

To achieve its mission, the Council conducts activities and provides services that fall into the following categories:

  • We provide company-specific assistance and problem-solving for our member-companies; (Such activities have included letter-writing campaigns to Russian federal and regional government decision makers, with the participation of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the Russian Embassy in Washington, as well as the Department of Commerce and other U.S. agencies in Washington.)
  • We work with the Russian and U.S. governments on policy issues;
  • We prepare various information products for our members;
  • And we regularly organize formal and informal briefings and roundtable discussions with U.S. & Russian government officials and business leaders. All these events provide great networking opportunities for our members.

Having established relationships with a number of influential members of both houses of the Russian Federal Assembly, the Council seeks to impact critical legislation pertaining to foreign investment and commercial taxation. The Council also conducts Capitol Hill and executive branch lobbying campaigns to voice member concerns, advance the U.S.-Russian commercial agenda and promote a more balanced discussion on Russia policy.

In addition, the Council plays a vital role in forging a public-private dialogue that makes tangible contributions to U.S.-Russian commercial relations, which includes structuring the trade and investment portion of presidential summits in the United States and Russia. In the first quarter of 2001, the Council submitted a transition paper to the Bush Administration consisting of an update on commercial and investment issues, as well as conceptual guidelines and specific recommendations for U.S. policy toward Russia. The Council subsequently provided commercial input for three Bush-Putin Summits in 2001, and is preparing commercial input for the May 2002 Summit in Russia.

A combination of policy briefings and special events has given our membership access to President Putin, Prime Minister Kasyanov, First Deputy Prime Minister Kudrin, Foreign Minister Ivanov, Presidential Economic Adviser Illarionov, Deputy Head of the Russian Presidential Administration Kozak, Minister of Economic Development and Trade Gref, Securities Commission Chairman Kostikov and his predecessor Dimitri Vasiliev, Rospatent General Director Korchagin, then-Unity Faction Leader and current Interior Minister Gryzlov, and numerous State Duma deputies, among others. The Council also regularly holds briefings and events with top U.S. officials, including recent presentations by National Security Adviser Rice, Commerce Secretary Evans and U.S. Ambassador to Russia Vershbow.

The Council is simultaneously forging new relationships in the emerging Russian private sector to create new opportunities for members to cooperate with Russian business. At the conclusion of their July 2001 meeting at the G-8 Summit in Genoa, President Bush and President Putin issued a joint statement naming the USRBC and other counterparts as the principal organizers of a new private-sector initiative known as the Russian-American Business Dialogue (RABD). The purpose of the RABD is to strengthen ties between the private sectors of the two countries and facilitate increased trade and investment activity.

To serve the sector-specific needs of its members, the Council facilitates company-led committees covering energy, agribusiness, and legal affairs, as well as working groups devoted to WTO accession and IT/e-commerce.

Finally, the Council has earned a reputation for hosting major conferences that advance member interests and provide practical value, including an annual U.S.-Russian Trade and Investment Forecast Conference. The Council has held issue-oriented Annual Meetings in Washington, Moscow, Houston, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Atlanta. These events offer access to U.S. and Russian decision makers with vital firsthand information and analysis, and also provide an important networking opportunity for members of the business community to discuss past experience and future projects.


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