In about three weeks, on July 23rd, is the deadline for the Russian President, the government, and the parliament to ratify all required documents to become a full member of the World Trade Organization.
This is a significant event for the Russian economy as the WTO, who prides itself on giving their members confidence that there will be no sudden changes in policy. This provides members rules and laws that are transparent and predictable. When I talk to people about the Russian economy the subject of corruption and lack of free business standards is almost always certain to come up. Entering the WTO will reduce the sovereign risk for Russia and should jump-start what I hope to be a constant acceleration for Russia's move towards being a major world economy.
Opportunities in Russia are great. I traveled to Moscow in November and saw rather simple opportunities by just walking around the city. For example, they have public transportation that I would put above that of NYC, but traveling by car there is a nightmare, the parking there makes lower Manhattan look favorable (it is normal for people to park with half of their vehicle on the sidewalk). Putting in parking garages or even simple lots and charging for parking would be a goldmine.
I was speaking with my mom (who lives in Moscow) earlier today and she was telling me how she has issues talking with her friends because they are all concerned with paying for the minutes on their phones and never felt comfortable talking for a long time. This shouldn't even be an issue. With today's technology combined with a competitive market environment a cost effective solution should be able to be put in place to allow for worry free communication for consumers.
I know that I am biased here, but I feel that Russia has immense potential. Banking and Consulting firms are already there to help administer the economic growth (, , , , McK, , etc... all have offices in Moscow). However, their units are relatively small, has less than 200 there as of a couple months ago. I see a bright future for Russia and think that we should see productive economic development over the next few decades. Anyone share my optimism?