The Role of Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Russia as the Intermediary for businesses across borders

The Role of Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Russia as the Intermediary for businesses across borders

 

By the request of Diplomatic World, Artem Golikov – student one of prestigious universities  in  Russia – National Research University Higher  School of Economics  have talked with Oleg Prozorov, CEO BLCC Russia  on topic  “The Role of Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Russia as the Intermediary for businesses across borders.”

 

To become a competent researcher in the sphere of trade relations and foreign affairs, it is not only crucial to explore the operation of numerous actors by analyzing the official documents and activity. It is also vital that one gets the chance to see the structure from the inside and “unbox” it for him or herself. As a trainee at BLCC Russia, I have been given an opportunity to assist in various spheres, e.g. the analysis of Chamber’s performance since its very creation and the assistance in several events. Nevertheless, the traineeship culminated in an interview with the CEO of the Chamber, Mr. Oleg Prozorov. This interview was conducted during the joint visit of BLCC Russia trade economic mission to the Tula region to meet the production facilities of the European and other foreign businesses in the special economic zone. It outlines the role of the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Russia:

 

Artem :  Oleg, what is exactly the reason for visiting offices and production forces outside of Moscow?

Oleg Prozorov:  Such missions clearly promote of business ties and result in the stimulation of B2B connections. Moscow today is the capital of the Eurasian Economic Union, as the representative offices and headquarters build up in here.

When the business representatives can see the progressive infrastructure and technological advances appearing in the Russian regions, the prejudices of doing business in Russia disappear.

In the previous years, to become a foreign expat in Russia or just to have a business trip required a lot of effort. Today, when e-visas are being introduced, Russia is becoming ever-progressive in inviting foreigners to develop their enterprises here.

Artem:  Is the function of Belgium-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Russia limited solely to the EAEU region, or it is also acting on the global scale?

Oleg Prozorov: As it was mentioned, Russia is becoming the midpoint for supply chains within Europe and the East. For example, BLCC Russia agreed joint webinar with BenCham China to foster the ties of European businesses in the Central East, with Russia being the logistics medium in the trade. When the opportunities are made visible for the market actors in various ways, they can actively participate them and create the necessary impetus.

Apart from the cooperation with the Benelux Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai, the cooperation with the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce in Japan, in UK, and in Turkey, has been established, with online events being scheduled. At the age of pandemic, the possibility to exchange knowledge and experience is limited to the online platforms. Still, some of the joint meetings with the mentioned Chambers are planned for the next year.

Artem:  The cooperation across the globe for a supra-federal NPO is certainly impressive. Nevertheless, how can the interests of Belgian-Luxembourg businesses remain the priority with such a large network of connections?

Oleg Prozorov: Thank you, Artem. Obviously, the Chambers of Commerce in other nations are valuable partners, but the contacts with regional departments are well established. The local connections play the crucial role for BLCC Russia since adherence to the interests of Belgian and Luxembourg businesses is key to our activity. Therefore, the ties are sustained with the departments in Flanders (VOKA) and Wallonia (CCI Wallonie ). The regular online meetings are set with the mentioned Chambers as well.

Artem: So, BLCC  operates not only with other supra-national organizations, but with regional ones too. Returning to the agenda of today’s event in Tula, why then EAEU businesses should be interested in contacting the Chamber?

Oleg Prozorov: The Chamber provides unique contacts with the Russian authorities in coordination of inter-state business activity in the format of regional missions (Skolkovo, Tula and Ryazan missions), business breakfasts and annual Gala dinners, where essential networking goals can be achieved.

Apart from that, the Chamber facilitates the educational events, where business representatives can discuss the concerns on their operation with the leading speakers from the Russian and foreign economic Academies.

Artem: What are the other activities of Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce unless the advancing reciprocal inter-state business interests?

Oleg Prozorov: As the forums were mentioned, universal webinars and conferences are organized. What is more, there are meetings dedicated to specific agenda, such as environmentally friendly business activity in Europe and EAEU. There are also other spheres of relations inducement, e.g. cultural connections. BLCC Russia  has an agreement for cooperation with Higher School of Economics in Moscow and a web of universities across Belgium and Luxembourg.

Artem: Oleg, why is there a need to establish links with universities and institutions, when the primary function of the Chamber is economic?

Oleg Prozorov: This clearly represents how the Chamber is interested in tuning to the business concerns and interests, as it can accommodate business representatives to be at the helm of it. The Chamber acts as an “antenna”, which implies having links with other social actors, i.e. universities and other Chambers (AMCHAM) to have the constant synergetic effect.

It is not only that, as some specialty products from Belgium, e.g. the chocolate, are endorsed on occasions. For instance, the Chamber was present on “Moscow Seasons” and Skolkovo center outside of Moscow hosts a large number of European green start-ups. Last but not least, the role of the Honorable President of our Chamber, H.I.H George Romanoff, should be highlighted. The Romanov Fund for Russia assists local community support by buying equipment for children’s hospitals and the elderly in need.

Artem: The methods for the governance of BLCC Russia clearly represent adherence to the needs of the business. If one opens the BLCC website, they can see that vice-presidents, the head of the treasury are the CEOs and top representatives of BeNeLux and Russian businesses. It cannot be but noted that the Belgian-Luxembourg Economic Union, which is the constituting source for the Chamber, is celebrating a 100-year anniversary next year. Considering this occasion, what are the most remarkable achievements of BLCC since 2013, when it was established in Moscow?

Oleg Prozorov: European companies have been receiving essential advice and assistance throughout the crises, such as customs complications and COVID-19, when many supply chains were disrupted. Moreover, all businesses were constantly briefed and updated on the complications and opportunities by both Chamber’s representatives and government authorities.

Russian large companies were able to easily access the European market via BLLC connections. Lukoil, Alrosa and green startups managed to access the market for different purposes, covering national energy needs and the demand for technology and finance. Therefore, the reciprocity of economic cooperation, which has managed to persist during many years of complications and, most importantly, was enhanced by BLCC Russia is the greatest achievement.

Artem: Thank you, Mr Prozorov for the interesting interview. To conclude, it has to be noted that it is only possible with the new businesses, joining the Chamber and voicing their needs openly, as they are exactly the reason for the Chamber to exist in the first place. It can be inferred that to serve needs of the business, the Belgian-Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce is to connect with other institutions overseas, including supra-national and local ones, and to promote ties with non-economic actors for the sake of synergy. Next year, in 2021, with 100-year anniversary of the Economic Union between Belgium and Luxembourg, BLCC Russia’ is to do so with even more pursuit.