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The Monterey Bay International Trade Association (MBITA), manager of TradePort.org ..........One of the longest standing non-profit global trade websites on the Web established in 1995.....Click HERE to see MBITA/TradePort events..........

MBITA announces its "Russian Market Outreach Program" intended to introduce members to business resources and opportunities in the emerging Russian marketplace.

by Jeff Procak

On May 6, 2002, MBITA and the Monterey Institute of International Studies hosted The Russian Telecommunications and Telephony Delegation for 2002. The delegation included a number of small to mid-sized enterprise (SME) Directors and CEOs active in the production of equipment and materials for the telecommunications sector. The delegation's visit was sponsored by the San Francisco-based Center for Citizen Initiatives and the Santa Clara County-Moscow oblast Sister County Commission.

This activity represents the latest in a series of initiatives by MBITA since the second half of 2000 to expand its program of identifying meaningful business opportunities in Russia for its members. Key to this program is the partnership established with the Vladivostok-based Far Eastern Center for Economic Development (FECED). The MBITA / FECED partnership is premised on the continued integration of Russian markets into the California and Pacific Rim economies. Leveraging its ties with technology vendors, the partnership is seeking to deepen this integration by improving Russian SME access to the Internet, and their use of information and communication technology to improve business performance.

MBITA and FECED have initiated SME market building activities in the Russian Far East with the goal of connecting these emerging communities to the existing SME network in California called CalTrade - a network of over 10,000 SMEs currently active in all aspects of international trade. The partnership hopes to realize some of its objectives through the Global Trade eCommerce Portal (GTEP), currently under joint development.

GTEP is a web portal designed to provide a collaborative, online environment to educate and support emerging SME communities in both countries. GTEP will enhance the skills of entrepreneurs and SMEs and facilitate their participation in global eCommerce through a better utilization of an existing knowledge base of trade promotion and economic development websites. In addition to the portal development, there is an ongoing effort to reach Russian multiplier organizations such as business associations, trade unions and training institutions to become GTEP certified trainers to their respective clients and members.

MBITA's Russian Outreach is headed by Tony Livoti, MBITA Executive Director and Dr. Alexandr Abramov, Executive Director of FECED. Tony has participated in Winrock International and ACDI/VOCA programs in Russia and is keen to see Central Coast companies take advantage of opportunities presented by the accelerating rate of growth in the Russian economy. The program enjoys the support and impetus provided by consultants Jim Faith, MBITA Trade Manager, Lilian Surkova, former project manager for DNA Sciences and a native of Irkutsk, and Jeff Procak, former World Bank Operations Analyst and Russian Country Officer.

MBITA members who would like to participate in hosting similar commercial delegations in the future should contact MBITA with suggestions regarding sector preferences. Similarly, any members who would like to share any previous experiences they've had with Russian business partners are welcome to do so, as we would like to compile a database of reliable (and unreliable) business partners for the benefit of the membership at large.

The Russian marketplace is one fraught with risk, and we would like to do our best to help in minimizing risk. MBITA also stands ready to assist its members in identifying and following up on potential business opportunities in Russia. Stay tuned for more on MBITA's Russian Outreach Program in the next issue of World Tradewinds or visit the MBITA website at www.mbita.org and select the link called Russian Outreach. Then view local KOIN television news coverage of the Telecommunications Delegation meeting.

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