Words of welcome
- Jun. 18 2010 00:00
Adolphe Leroy and Rose Merlin, the two figures behind today's Leroy Merlin DIY chain, enjoyed a personal as well as business partnership in the 1920s. The Pernod and Ricard dynasties were long standing competitors in the spirits market until their merger in 1975, when together they set out to expand into foreign markets. More recently, Sanofi-Synthelabo's initially hostile takeover bid for Aventis turned friendly, producing the world's fourth largest pharmaceuticals firm.
In business, partnership can be key — in Russia-based business, doubly so. The personal contact of presidents Medvedev and Sarkozy may set the overall tone of the relationship between Russia and France, but it is the partnership of firms and individuals that cement business relations.
This special issue of The Moscow Times Partnership XXI Century starts off speaking to some of the people involved. France's ambassador to Russia talks of the benefits of partnership, while the co-chairs of the Russian-French council for economic, financial, industrial and commercial matters (CEFIC) — Christine Lagarde, France's minister of economy, industry and employment, and Alexander Zhukov, Russia's deputy prime minister — recount their experiences of the relationship and hopes for how it will develop.
We then look in more detail at what this partnership really means in practice: a case study of Renault and AvtoVAZ through the good times and the bad; how the transfer of technology is opening new possibilities for Russian companies and enabling French firms to enter Russian markets; and what Russia's consumer spending power can do for France.
Sitting in Moscow, it is easy to restrict one's view of the country to within the MKAD, with an occasional periscope gaze along the Leningradskoye Shosse to the northern capital. For many French businesses, however, Moscow has been both a soft landing upon entry and a taut springboard to beyond. With this in mind we have sought to follow suit, maintaining a broad stance across the issue with a special focus on French companies' activities in Russia's regions.
On behalf of the 250 members of the French Chamber of Commerce in Russia, we are deeply honored to welcome the President of France, Nicolas Sarkozy, to the 2010 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Despite the continuing economic crisis, 2010 was a year of growth for French investment in Russia: France has moved from ninth position to fifth among Russia's major trading partners.
The political and cultural dialogue between these two great European countries, particularly in the Year of Russia in France and France in Russia, is bearing economic fruit. Thanks to the great Franco-Russian projects, the image of Russia is changing: The French now see a rapidly modernizing country that is developing its infrastructure, investing heavily in its public sector and raising its citizens' living standards. Simultaneously, Russian entrepreneurs are discovering France — not only as a tourist destination but also as an attractive investment location.
It is to this privileged partnership between Russia and France, the fruits of which our members use every day, that this special issue, published in three languages — Russian, French and English — is dedicated. The co-chairs of the CEFIC, France's Christine Lagarde and Russia's Alexander Zhukov, explain their views on the relationship in the pages of this publication.
And to seal the union of heart and mind, we can enjoy the presence of two presidents — Dmitry Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy — at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum in 2010 to transform our French Chamber of Commerce in Russia into the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce! This transformation will allow us to integrate better our French members into the Russian business community and create a tool for Russian companies to enter the French market directly.
The birth of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce is the result of long and laborious work that we have carried out together with the Movement of French Enterprises, MEDEF International, and the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. We would like to take this opportunity to thank our partners for their strong support.
Today we are faced with an ambitious goal: to create a structure that will become a permanent platform for key figures in Franco-Russian economic cooperation to meet.
Franco-Russian business relations now have an address — the address of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce. When will we have the pleasure of welcoming you through our doors?