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Russian High-Tech Firms Mount A Charge On ASEAN

South Korean President Roh Moo Hyun (2nd R) brief by a Chinese official on the replica of the Chinese-made spacecraft at the exhibition centre during the 11th ASEAN Summit meeting in Kuala Lumpur 12 December 2005. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) opened its 11th summit here 12 December, with plans for historic talks on bringing the region's disparate nations closer together. AFP photo by Roslan Rahman.

Kuala Lumpur (AFP) Dec 12, 2005
The market is tight and the obstacles daunting, but after years of watching Western high-tech firms scoop up deals in Southeast Asia, Russia is mounting a charge of its own targeting rich ASEAN economies.

From state-of-the-art satellite communications systems to environmentally friendly household refrigerators that use only air as a cooling agent, Russian firms say they are bringing know-how and unique new technologies to the table.

And they are attaching modest price tags to their wares that they hope will tempt even the richest countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

"Yes, the United States and the Europeans are of course big forces in this market," said Vladimir Vikulin, director of the Orpe Technologiya ceramics firm based in the Russian city of Obninsk.

"But we are now also entering this market. The price of our products is lower than American prices and we work with technologies that are more efficient than those used in Europe," he said.

Those technologies helped Orpe beat bids from US and European firms and win a tender for advanced ceramic structural support tubes used in the European Center for Nuclear Research (CERN) particle accelerator in Switzerland.

Vikulin was among scores of Russian businesspeople representing more than 50 Russian high-tech firms taking part in the Russia High-Tech 2005 exhibit here, timed to coincide with the first Russia-ASEAN summit.

President Vladimir Putin was due to arrive here on Tuesday for the summit and while he and ASEAN leaders were to discuss a range of political issues, officials have made clear that business is at the top of Russia's agenda.

The nascent Russia-ASEAN partnership "is particularly significant in terms of using multilateral cooperation to resolve economic and social development issues in our countries," the Kremlin said ahead of the summit.

For Russia, this means not just developing traditional revenue streams through sales of raw materials and weapons but also converting its renowned scientific expertise into profitable, long-term business deals with ASEAN.

"We are interested in doing business with all ASEAN countries," explained Andrei Kirillovich, Asia-Pacific sales director for the Russian Satellite Communications Company (RSCC), also present at the ASEAN high-tech exhibit.

Kirillovich, whose firm offers global satellite telecommunications services like those sold by competitors Hotbird, Eutelsat and others, said his company's strategy centered on working with local partners to identify untapped markets.

"We try to identify niches where the others are not so strong," he said, noting that Western satellite telecom firms focused on transatlantic markets had less to offer in vast swaths of Russia, China and parts of Southeast Asia.

On Tuesday, RSCC and Indonesia's PT Telekomunikasi were expected to sign an agreement on satellite communications services said by sources to be worth at least 250 million dollars, and deals with other countries were being explored.

"There is interest in these markets and in working with partners in ASEAN countries," said Joseph Ritchey, a spokesman for the Russian telecommunications ministry.

Russian firms are also exploring telecom deals with ASEAN and other Asian countries for routing of voice and data communications over landlines through Russia rather than costly satellite links that pass through Europe.

"They feel they can offer cheaper and better alternatives" for telecommunications links between Asia and Europe, said Ritchey.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Policy Watch: Russia's Role In The World
Washington (UPI) Nov 28, 2005
Many Russians maintain two strong beliefs about their country's role in the world. First, they are absolutely convinced that, despite everything that has happened, Russia not only should be a great power, but is one. Second, they fear that unless Russia is a great power, it will fall apart.

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