Lord Mayor: City of London looks to Russia for new opportunities

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July 22, 2013
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Alderman Roger Gifford, Lord Mayor of the City of London, talks to thinkRUSSIA about why UK businesses should look to Moscow for growth
St Paul’s Cathedral in the City of London. © Vladimir Astapkovich, RIA Novosti

I was delighted to have the opportunity as Lord Mayor to visit Russia in May and renew the ties of friendship strengthened by my predecessor, Sir David Wootton.  Russia is one of the UK’s most important international partners, with British investment in Russia totalling £8 billion, and both countries are committed to deepening this relationship.

During my visit to Russia, I met with many senior representatives from the financial services industry to promote greater integration of our two sectors.  The UK’s world leading legal and professional services sector can share experience and expertise with our Russian counterparts to help them develop and expand internationally.  I chaired the 5th meeting of the City of London – Moscow International Finance Centre Liaison Group whilst in Russia, and I am excited to see where the efforts of our two countries will lead us.

However, Russian industry must also continue to diversify if it is to fulfil its potential, and whilst in Russia I attended an LSE event aimed at encouraging Russian e-commerce start-ups to raise capital in London.  The Internet is experiencing immense growth in Russia, and the City of London has the expertise necessary to help Russian e-commerce firms unlock their potential.  This vibrant new industry is just one of the ways that the City and Moscow can partner to achieve success, across a diverse range of industries.

Russia is also about to host some of the world’s most high profile events – an area in which Britain has a wealth of experience and knowledge to share.  Britain’s successful Olympic Games proved it has the skills and expertise to deliver successful events on time and on budget.  Moscow can leverage the UK’s experience at providing and advising on infrastructure finance, as well as the City’s successful history of PPP projects.  To finalize arrangements for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, I hope Russia will view London as its partner of choice.

Alongside the world of sport, Britain and Russia also share excellence in the arts.  I am proud that 2014 will be a bilateral year of culture between our two nations.  The arts provide tremendous cultural capital and enjoyment, and I am delighted that we will further be able to deepen these cultural connections, starting with the involvement of the renowned Barbican Centre for the Arts.

Russia and the UK have much in common, and both countries stand to benefit from greater trade and profitability.  City of London businesses need Russian consumers to expand internationally, and the City welcomes international expansion by Russian businesses.  We are at our strongest when we are at our most international.  As Moscow grows as a trade centre, the City grows with it as a natural partner.

The UK and Russia already enjoy the foundation for a long term partnership for prosperity.  That partnership between Government and business will strengthen and deepen.  Russia is a story of success and progress, and as it continues to establish itself as an economic and political force on the world stage, the UK and the City of London can stand alongside it as a partner and a friend, creating jobs, growth and prosperity.

Roger Gifford is Lord Mayor of the City of London. 

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