Russia business opportunities are as vast as the country itself. It’s move towards a market-based, globally integrated economy has not only created alluring opportunities in the export market, but in a large and rapidly growing internal market as well. A true energy “superpower”, Russia boasts some of the world’s largest reserves of oil, natural gas, and coal. It is also a leader in non-carbon based power generation (nuclear, hydro and renewable sources). Timber reserves in Siberia and the Russian Far East are immense, while the Ural Mountains are packed with mineral wealth. With access to three of the world’s oceans (Atlantic, Arctic, and Pacific), Russian fishing fleets are a major contributor to the world’s fish supply, and the total cultivated land within Russia is well in excess of one million square kilometers, making it a major producer of grains, animal husbandry products, potatoes, fruits and vegetables. And even with growing world demand for commodities, the export of Russia’s resources has started to decrease in economic importance thanks to the strengthening of domestic consumption.
Besides its resource-based industries, Russia has developed large manufacturing capacities and a large service sector. The defense and aircraft industries are important employers and are able to offer internationally competitive products for export. Russia is a leader in the space industry, a significant auto manufacturer (with both domestic and foreign owned plants), and a respected exporter of software and Information Technology. Many other industries – from medical and scientific instruments, to textiles and foodstuffs – remain dependent on the Russian domestic market. Its these sectors, in combination with foreign investment and a little innovation, that hold the greatest potential for lucrative business ventures, not only for the domestic market, but for export to foreign markets as well.
Notwithstanding the opportunities, Russian business ventures also face numerous risks. These include a shrinking workforce, a high level of corruption, difficulty in accessing capital for smaller companies, and poor infrastructure in need of large investments. In addition, the protection of property rights is still weak and the private sector remains subject to heavy state interference.