News / Europe

Russian President, California Governor Look for High-Tech Trade

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, front left, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev attend a round table discussion for U.S. and Russian investors and computer experts in the Skolkovo Moscow school of management in Moscow, 11 Oct  2010
California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, front left, and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev attend a round table discussion for U.S. and Russian investors and computer experts in the Skolkovo Moscow school of management in Moscow, 11 Oct 2010

California's governor and prospective investors from Silicon Valley are in Russia looking for business opportunities.

"I have to say that I love places where there is an extraordinary potential and I think when I look at Russia I think the potential for growth and for, I mean really blowing this thing up, the economy, is just so extraordinary," said Arnold Schwarzenegger. "I mean there are so many opportunities here in Russia, that you just look at this and say, 'Oh my God.'

With that, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his intent to get American businesses to invest in Russia's information technology sector.

Schwarzenegger was in the former Soviet Union as a return gesture to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's visit to the Silicon Valley earlier this year. During Mr. Medvedev's visit, he appealed for technical capital and American know-how.

Schwarzenegger led a delegation with representatives from high-tech companies, including the likes of Google, Oracle and Microsoft to Moscow. In discussions with Russia's president, Schwarzenegger talked about the importance of American's setting up shop in the Russian Federation.

"We are very happy to help in this process because as said we are the best in the world when it comes to this, I mean when it comes to biotech, to nanotech, high tech, green tech," he said. "You know there is no one like us, but we are not like holding on to our knowledge. What we want to do, we want to spread it around the world."

But political analyst Masha Lipman, with the Carnegie Center, says it is not easy to get started or stay in business in Russia.

"Risks are indeed high. Russia is not a law-governed place. Russia is a place where decisions are taken in a non-transparent fashion," said Lipman. "Russia is a place where businesses may fall out with the government and the government may take measures. Russia is a country in which government decisions are not contested. This of course creates a climate this is not auspicious, that is unpredictable."

American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow President Andrew Sommers agrees with Lipman and attributes some of the difficulties of operating in Russia to a sort of schizophrenia between the government and its attempts at modernization.

"Russia is trying to develop its own industries so it is not totally dependent on foreign investment, but at the same time exploit foreign investment and high-tech," he said.

President Medvedev has said several times this year that modernization and foreign expertise is important to the Russian economy. Mr. Medvedev promises Russia is committed to joining forces with the United States.

He says, he would like to say once again that Russia is very much interested in America's immense experience, and that Russia is not shy of learning. He says Russia must admit that in many spheres Moscow is behind Washington, and he hopes very much that the co-operation will bear fruit.

part of Mr. Medvedev's modernization plans, a new technology center on the outskirts of Moscow was created earlier this year. The facility, in Skolkovo, has been nicknamed Russia's Silicon Valley.

In addition to creating Skolkovo, Russia has also given $10 billion to innovation investment fund Rusnaro. The fund is run by a group that is financing nearly 100 high-tech products in partnership with the former Soviet Union and foreign firms.

Meanwhile, the U.S. group Cisco, says it will invest $1 billion in Russia during the next decade.

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