Russia’s opportinity for growth is what appeals to investors – Deloitte

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Ian Colebourne, CEO of Deloitte CIS, speaks to RT on the sidelines of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

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RT:  What are the most important issues on the Forum’s agenda?

Ian Colebourne: We are looking at things in terms of the balance between the growth and sustainable growth. So, one of the forum sessions we are sponsoring this year is around sustainable growth. We had our global head of sustainability with us on that panel and I think this is an important kind of consideration for the administration. Clearly we want to see growth, but it’s got to be inclusive growth that brings up all of society.

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RT:  Global growth or Russia growth?

IC:  Russia growth, we are looking at things very much more Russia-prospective.

RT:  Is growth in Russia sustainable?

IC:  I think we have achieved stability after a period of considerable volatility. I think the administration has steered well. And I think that’s what in terms of international investors is now attractive. The fundamentals for Russia investment have remained the same and I think we are now at the platform where we are looking to what we would put forward as a reform or economic program that stimulates growth.

RT:  What about news reports about the risks in Russian financial instruments?

IC:  Difficult to comment really on why they are rating it that way. We have been here for 27 years. I think what we see is that Russia and business relationships have been very resilient through some of these challenges. And I think that for us is really the focus. How do we continue to support our Russian clients, our international clients and to maintain that resilience and confidence in business.

RT:  How do you make this conclusion that businesses are resilient to the challenges in these hard years for Russia?

IC:  I think you would have to look at where we are positioned now. In terms of reduced inflation the overall confidence both in terms of consumers is still a little bit low but increasingly more competitive. I think within business there is an improvement and business confidence and this gives us an opportunity for growth. But I think that there is clearly some need for change to stimulate that growth.

RT:  Why is it that despite sanctions big money investors come to Russia?

IC:  You just have to look at the past twelve months in terms of some of the transactions which have happened. I think clearly energy and resources continues to be a driver for the economy and that’s the area where we have seen a lot of large investment. But outside of that we see investments in the other sectors of the economy. And this is more about the diversification of the economy. Russia has come through a very turbulent period well and I think the economy is stable now. It has opportunity for growth and that’s what appeals to the investors.

RT:  Do sanctions not matter?

IC:  It’s hard to say it doesn’t matter. Business as I say has been resilient throughout this period and are continuing business relationships. We’re somewhere outside the geopolitical arena. We are focused on the business side of the equation.

RT:  Is the effect of sanctions fading for the business community?

IC:  I am not sure that the effect is fading or otherwise. I think that there would be a preferences in business community for them not to be there. That is just understood. And so people have been focused on how we maintain the relationships, how do we maintain the sort of connectivity. A lot of businesses have been investing in Russia over the past several decades and those businesses are committed and we are among them. We have been here 27 years. We are committed to the market and that just a fundamental.

READ MORE: Russian-German trade sees robust growth despite sanctions

RT:  What are your expectations for Russia?

IC:  We are the world’s largest professional services firm and our ability to have an impact with our clients is significant. Clearly what we see with our Russian clients is an appetite for international best practice and there’s something we can bring them. So we’ve been working a lot around operational effectiveness in closing the productivity gap – and that’s an area where we’ve been very busy. Actually this year at the Forum we have our European team who are working with clients in the digital space. That is another area where the global expertise that Deloitte has in abundance as the world leader in that is really something that could have an impact on Russian clients.

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