Getting into the market

At present the UK only accounts for around 2 percent of Russian imports, making it our twelfth biggest overseas market. Exports to Russia are running at around £2.4 billion a year. There is a demand for both Western goods and expertise. The most promising sectors are advanced engineering, financial services, ICT, power and energy, airports, construction, creative industries, rail and water. With Russia due to host the 2014 Winter Olympics there are also opportunities for sports and leisure infrastructure.

Russia also operates a number of Special Economic Zones offering benefits to businesses opting to set up in these locations. These zones often help Western businesses overcome problems accessing Russian markets.

Although a potentially lucrative market, many UK exporters may have qualms about doing business with Russia. There are many lingering myths, most of which are now unfounded.

However, it is essential for would-be exporters to undertake comprehensive strategic research of the opportunities looking at such things as the type of company to be set up, the delivery and distribution of products, effective marketing plans and, above all, local conditions.

UK businesses are likely to experience tough competition from European exporters such as Italy and Germany as well as those from Asia either because of their geographical proximity or long-standing trading relations.