Last week, Blackthorne accompanied the British Embassy on a Trade Mission to Ekaterinburg in Russia’s Sverdlovsk Region, the largest centre of industrial production in the country, along with several other businesses in a variety of sectors from telecommunications to intelligent printing systems, all interested in exploring commercial opportunities in the area.
After a very warm welcome by HM Consul-General Martin Fenner at his residence, the delegation got a relatively early night, ready for the 08.30 start the next day, which for those travelling from London was the equivalent of 04.30AM (fortunately, this delegate was only travelling from Moscow).
A full programme of meetings with local companies, interrupted only by the odd resuscitating glug of coffee, was immediately followed by a site visit to UGMK (Urals Mining & Metallurgical Company). The second largest copper producer in Russia and the largest copper powder producer in Europe (provides for 60% of European demand for copper powder!), the company is a vast holding with interests from agriculture to aircraft manufacturing. A definite highlight was watching the formation of a gold bar from liquid to solid in front of our eyes (with the added intrigue of a promise that if we were able to lift the $0.5mln bar with our fingers, we could keep it; needless to say, we all failed). And then on to a meeting with the Sverdlovsk Regional Government!
The day was topped off with an invitation to the Queen’s Birthday Party, celebrated in the hotel with dozens of locals with interests in the UK, including the companies that met with the delegation earlier, and local government ministers.
Altogether an extremely well-organised mission, we are very positive about the contacts we made and remain confident that our business there will continue to develop. In spite of an admittedly difficult and uncontrollable geopolitical situation, Russia is an important market for exporters in the UK.