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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

American Chamber in Russia Now Accepting Foreign Firms

The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia has begun accepting non-American firms into its midst under an affiliated membership status approved at its annual meeting.

The move, adopted Friday, reflects the association's aim to strengthen its lobbying position by including large multinationals from Europe and Asia, as well as increasing the number of avenues available to legitimate Russian firms.

"It's a two-way street," said the chamber's executive director, Peter Charow. "We would like to do what we can to help Russians understand the kind of things they can do, and develop fruitful relationships in the States."

The new members will have the same privileges as full-fledged members, except they cannot serve on the board of directors, vote in elections or serve as a committee chairman, Charow said.

The affiliated members should not be confused with associate members, which are American companies without representation in Russia.Allowing affiliated memberships will bring the chamber closer to policies practiced by American chambers in other European countries.

The decision also was prompted by requests from several large multinational and Russian firms currently excluded from the chamber but who wished to join.

"We feel that there are a number of companies that are ... now extending beyond the international borders," he said. "They're becoming multinational companies like many of the members already with us."

The move to attract firms from outside the United States met no criticism from one European business leader.

"My position is that we need to be open-minded to any possibility, and to any cooperation," said Lucien Blanc, Russia representative of the Rhone-Poulenc pharmaceuticals firm and chairman of the European Business Club. "But of course we have different points of view on certain topics and interests. The European interest may not always be the same as the American one."