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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Western Shippers Turn to CIS As Potential Transport Market

Just a few years ago, the Commonwealth of Independent States was one giant landmass largely off-limits to the world's shipping companies, but now, Russia and the former Soviet republics are diving into a huge potential market.

"The country is huge, the transport distances are long, and the amounts that have to be moved are tremendous," said Irina Krasnopolskaya, advertising manager in Moscow for United States-based DHL shippers. "There is plenty to be transported."

Krasnopolskaya was speaking Monday at the opening of Moscow's First International Freight, Transport and Logistics Exhibition at VDNKh. More than 160 companies from 30 countries were due to take part in the exhibition, which runs through Thursday.

Moscow is the hub for many companies' operations across the CIS, a market of 12 countries and 286 million people.

"If local spending power grows to match the local hunger for consumer goods, Russia and the CIS will become dominant players in global trade," said Grigory Cherkasov, a sales executive of TNT Express Worldwide.

"Russia is a market of enormous potential as well as of relative risk," he added.

Jill Errington, CIS cargo manager for British Airways World Cargo, said Moscow is likely to remain the focus of aircraft deliveries for the market, but other CIS countries and regions will also see significant business growth.

"Azerbaijan ... over the next 30 years is set to join the elite of 'petro' economies," Errington said, referring to development of the Caspian Sea oil reserves. Cities such as Almaty, Yekaterinburg, Kiev and Novosibirsk also have the skills and resources to deliver their own mini-booms, she said.

World Cargo plans to open new offices in at least five new CIS cities, beginning with St. Petersburg, Errington said., the largest European-based international delivery company.