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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Tops New List for Off-Beat Business Risks

LONDON -- Russia, Pakistan and Algeria confront Western firms with the biggest off-beat risks outside the normal run of business criteria, an international risk consultancy said Wednesday.

Weighing factors often seen as peripheral, from corruption and violent crime to red tape and basic cultural differences, London-based Merchant International Group said Russia remained the riskiest business location for British and U.S. companies for the second quarter running.

Pakistan overtook Algeria for second place, Merchant International Group's latest quarterly survey showed.

Indonesia, rated as the third riskiest in the first quarter, improved its ranking to fifth place, with Belarus in fourth.

Indonesia's first democratic elections in 44 years passed off peacefully early this month, despite fears of violence.

The Merchant International Group said the knock-on effects of the Balkan crisis, including increased xenophobia in Eastern Europe, would continue to affect Western companies into 2000.

Heightened religious tension in the run-up to the millennium and increasing friction between China and Taiwan over World Trade Organization membership would also take their toll.

The Merchant International Group, which has estimated that nonconventional risks cost companies investing or operating in emerging market countries more than $15 billion a year, said the risks in any one place also varied according to the origin of the foreign company.

For British companies, the best-rated countries by region were Estonia, Jordan, Singapore and Chile.