Thursday, March 31, 2016

Doing Business in Eurasia

By Hannah Copenheaver

On March 22, we hosted a roundtable discussion with the Mid-Atlantic Russian Business Council/Mid-Atlantic Eurasia Business Council in Harrisburg that addressed emerging business opportunities in the greater Eurasian region. 

A panel of experts discussed a variety of topics, ranging from legal, regulatory standards, and taxation, that influence the way Eurasian counties conduct business in their respective markets. 

Here is a brief overview of the speakers and their key points:

Ulf Schneider, Founder and Managing Partner, SCHNEIDER GROUP
- Eurasian Economic Union has 182.5M people, 20M sq km, and 14% of world's land. Key concepts include the free movement of goods, services, capital and people.
- Russia continues to be the largest country in the Eurasia region, with 146 million people and $1236 billion (USD) in GDP in 2015. Their GDP is ranked at #13 in the world. 
- According to the "Doing Business Report" (2016), Ukraine presents the most challenges in the region, especially in the categories construction permits, paying taxes and paying across boarders. 
- Kazakhstan presents new opportunities, as they recently joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2015.
- In conclusion, Eurasia has a "diverse mix of different countries"click here to download the presentation

Siarhei Nahorny, Senior Counselor, Trade & Economic Affairs, Embassy of Belarus in the U.S.
- Belarus has 10 million people with $63 billion (USD) in GDP in 2015.
- The country is located in the "heart" of Eurasia, bordering Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia and Ukraine.
- Belarus has 400 enterprises with US capital investments. The US invested $90M in the country last year alone.

Elena Liaskovskai, Director, International Tax Desk – Central & Eastern Europe & Russia, PwC
- Forming a LLC is the most frequent way for a US company to set up an entity in Russiaclick here to download the presentation

Jonathan Nelms, Partner, Baker & McKenzie
- One of the largest problems in the region continues to be corruption
- Jonathan reviewed the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and its prohibited offenses, including anti-bribery, falsifying books and record keeping, and incorrect internal auditing controls.
- Some common red flags include over invoicing, unusual credits, requesting payment to a third country, extravagant gifts, among many others. Don't do it!
click here to download the presentation

James Thomas, Assistant Vice President, Sales & Marketing, ASTM International
- Suggested forming an MOU with the local partner company to signify that you are committed to the new relationship

Tina Weyant (WTC), Elena Liaskovskai (PwC), Siarhei Nahorny (Belarus Embassy), James Thomas (ASTM), Ulf Schneider (Schneider Group), Jonathan Nelms (Baker McKenzie), Val Kogan (MARBC), Lydia Sarson (German American Chamber), Hannah Copenheaver (WTC)

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