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Dutch Banks Will Come To Urals After Crisis

Dutch Banks Will Come To Urals After Crisis

23.09.2009 — Analysis

After the financial crisis has been overcome the cooperation between the Urals and the Netherlands will get a "second wind". Ron Keller, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Russia, is certain in this; he has recently brought a very representative business delegation to the Urals. In the exclusive interview given to RusBusinessNews Mr. Keller spoke about some promising spheres of cooperation for the Urals and Dutch business as well as about the projects remaining for the post-crisis times.

- Mr. Keller, this is your first visit to Russian regions. It is not by accident that you chose the Urals, is it?

- This is true, the visit to Ekaterinburg is my first official visit on Russian territory. I started working in Moscow only a month ago. The delegation with which I came here includes employees of the Dutch Embassy in Moscow as well as representatives of 35 Dutch companies.

The goal of this visit is to help the trade and economic cooperation between the Urals regions and the Netherlands. The Dutch businessmen have already managed to meet with more than a hundred Urals companies. I expect as great a number of meetings in Chelyabinsk where we are going next.

It is no secret that the Netherlands are the main trade partner of the Sverdlovsk Oblast. The sum total of the foreign trade turnover amounted to over 1.6 billion US dollars. The Netherlands' share is 45 million dollars. Moreover, our Kingdom is amongst the largest investors into the Sverdlovsk Oblast, in 2008 the sum total of investments into the real sector amounted to over 400 million Euro. This subject of the Russian Federation, therefore, is a very important economic partner for the Netherlands.

- In what spheres is the cooperation between the Urals and the Netherlands developing most intensively?

- Trade and investments between the Netherlands and the Sverdlovsk Oblast are not tied to any particular sector of economy. Metallurgy products are exported to Netherlands, mainly, the Netherlands export to the Urals agricultural products and processed foods. Moreover, Dutch companies supply various equipment, provide consulting and engineering services.

Within the framework of these negotiations we discussed the opportunities for the development of further cooperation in the sphere of energy saving, waste processing, and, of course, agriculture. The latter envisages the continued cooperation in the spheres of poultry and livestock farming, the development of food processing industry, the establishment of processing of agro products, including potatoes.

I reckon that one of the results of this visit will be the continued and broadened connections and contacts between the Netherlands and the Sverdlovsk Oblast. Beyond doubt, the 2009 figures will still be affected by the financial crisis; the lively participation of Dutch and Urals businessmen in these talks gives a graphic demonstration of the fact that companies see further into the future than the crisis.

- Is it planned to open a diplomatic representation of the Kingdom in Ekaterinburg to strengthen the cooperation?

- We have only one Consulate General in Saint Petersburg. We also have an Honorary Consul in Sakhalin (this is due to the large scale participation of Shell in the development of oil reserves in this region). An unusual structure, however, has been organised in Ekaterinburg by the Government of the Netherlands - the Netherlands Business Support Office (NBSO). This has been established specifically for the assistance to the trade and economic relations between the Netherlands and the Sverdlovsk Oblast, the whole of the Urals, to be exact.

We think that this kind of narrowing down does make sense, the centre focuses on providing expertise in the sphere of economics. Thanks to NBSO the Russian and Duch companies can keep in constant touch, our visit has been organised thanks to the efforts made by the Office.

- Is it planned to make Ekaterinburg and Amsterdam closer by starting a direct flight service between the cities?

- I will be discussing this question with KLM. I think they have been thinking of starting such service for quite some time already. The financial crisis in air carriers' business has led to the fall in the numbers of passengers in on all routes and I am not sure that KLM would be prepared to start running new routes just now. It is beyond doubt, however, that as Russia develops (which we will see happening in the next decade) the beginning of operation of new services will be inevitable.

- The French Banque Societe Generale Vostok and the Austrian Raiffeisenbank are working in Ekaterinburg today. Do financial and credit companies in the Netherlands have any plans to come to the Urals?

- So far I have not heard of any representation of a Dutch bank opening in Ekaterinburg, the financial crisis here is worse than in air transport. The further economic development, however, envisages investments and, naturally, financial institutions will get involved in the process.

- You mentioned waste processing as one of the priorities for the development of cooperation between the Urals and the Netherlands. Would the Dutch specialists be able to make the Urals capital cleaner?

- I have to say that the entire range of issues concerning waste processing and environmental pollution is immensely complicated. Waste is not only those paper wrappers which people drop, it is household waste, industrial waste, agricultural waste. I think Ekaterinburg is experiencing difficulties in the resolution of this issue due to a large number of heavy industry enterprises. It is quite likely that there is no single institutional centre responsible for pollution.

To make the city clean a colossal effort is needed from the city administration, people, and industrial enterprises. To stop the pollution there must be a code of conduct, nothing can be achieved just by a wave of a wand. The city administration must provide a developed waste management infrastructure, litter bins in the streets, waste sorting containers, waste processing plants. This costs a lot of money, the investments must come from the people of the city too, this might be in a format of a special tax.

There are many examples in Europe of how to organise waste processing, all you have to do is to look at them closely, copy them and use them. The Netherlands, undoubtedly, have accumulated a lot of experience in this sphere that we can share.

Interview prepared by Valentina Mazharova

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