Business in the Highlands and Islands are being urged to take advantage of opportunities in Russia at a free event in Inverness this month.
Russia is the largest country in the world and now the UK's 12th largest export market. In 2010 UK exports to Russia increased by 51% totaling £3.45bn.
The half-day event is organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) in partnership with Scottish Development International (SDI) and with funding through the European Social Fund. It will help businesses find out about the opportunities that exist in the Russian market and the support available through the Smart Exporter international trade programme.
Held in Inverness on Thursday March 8, a range of experts will be on hand with one to one support and advice sessions for businesses at any stage of exporting - from those just interested to established exporters.
Experts attending include Yuri Andreev, International Manager of SDI's Russia Office in Moscow; Josi Mathar, Marketing Manager for Ru Visa; Steve Roberts-Mee, Head of Communications at UK Export Finance and David Cant, Director of Albion Overseas Ltd.
Also presenting is Oliver Platts, Sales Director at Johnstons of Elgin, who will share the company's 10 years of experience working in Russia.
Understanding the market is important in finding business and that is where agency support can be crucial. HIE and its international partner SDI have access to networks around the world.
Since 2001 UK-Russia trade has been growing at an average of 21% year on year. The government's economy modernisation and infrastructure development agenda together with an increasing consumer appetite for quality services and goods make Russia a very attractive target for British exports.
A number of promising opportunities exist in sectors including food & drink, advanced engineering, creative industries, financial services and ICT. There are also prospects for businesses involved in sports and leisure infrastructure due to the forthcoming 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
Laura Robertson, of HIE, says the Russian market is one which could be attractive to many businesses in the Highlands and Islands. She said: "Russia offers opportunities across a range of sectors and many Highlands and Islands companies are already finding new markets in the country. In 2008 Scottish exports to Russia were valued at £170 million with the potential much higher. Food and drink, including whisky and seafood, are creating growing Russian interest, as are services for the oil and gas sector and tourism.
"If anyone is interested in exploring whether they could do business with the world's largest country then they should come along. The event is on March 8 in Inverness and full details are on the HIE website, www.hie.co.uk ."