A Moscow businessman with deep ties to China says cooperation with Chinese firms is profitable for Russia and his lifelong career priority.
As an industry leader who started working with Chinese companies 20 years ago, Sergei Kurbatov, president of Nedra Construction Material Producers' Union, told Xinhua Wednesday that the now thriving business interaction between Russia and China was based on fruitful win-win cooperation.
As early as in 1991, as deputy director of the Russian Machine Building Union, Kurbatov worked with the Union of Chinese Entrepreneurs in Russia, in particular with head of the Druzhba (Friendship) Chinese Trade Center in Moscow. He also cooperated with the Cherkizovsky retail market and other Chinese businesses in Russia.
Eventually, these businesses coalesced under the auspices of the Greenwood Club, which served as a platform for Chinese products to enter the Russian market, Kurbatov said.
The Greenwood International Trade Center, a 350-million-U.S. dollar program financed by China Chengtong Development Group, started operation in Moscow in February 2011.
"The Greenwood business park itself is an example of how Chinese investments work for Russia-China trade," Kurbatov said.
"I was so pleased with the partnership with the Chinese entrepreneurs and officials that it has determined all my further business orientation," he said.
His business interests later shifted to the production of construction materials. Russia experienced a shortage of stone-processing equipment and Chinese factories could fill that gap with high quality products, Kurbatov said.
Becoming Nedra's head five years ago, the Moscow businessman started to work with Chinese producers closely. He made several business trips to Guangzhou in southern China and chose its factories as primary suppliers.
Problems surfaced, however, as language barriers and unfamiliarity with local laws troubled Russian businessmen in their dealings with Chinese partners. The brokers they hired often cheated or inflated prices for their service.
Kurbatov thus decided to connect Russian and Chinese businesses via Greenwood to cut out the intermediaries.
The idea paid off handsomely. With equipment costs plunging, more deals were struck between the two countries, with 1 billion dollars worth of contracts signed annually in the past few years.
In 2010, the Nedra Union signed a three-party deal with Greenwood and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.
In 2013, along with the Association of Russian Construction Workers, Nedra would further enhance business ties with Chinese partners, Kurbatov said.
"Instead of purchasing ready-made equipment, we will buy in China the technological lines and entire factories for construction materials production," Kurbatov said.
The Russian businessman said intensive business interaction between the two countries had been very fruitful and brought profits to both sides, especially to the development of Russian industries such as minerals, forestry and energy.
For Kurbatov, the "Chinese direction" has been and will always be his career priority.
He even sent his son to study the Chinese language at Beijing Humanitarian University.
"He will be the second generation in our family who will devote his career to cooperation with China," Kurbatov said.