Foreign companies are optimistic about Russia

"Nothing (in Russia) has been as bad as it has been portrayed in the Western media," Daniel Thorniley told a group of executives from more than 100 Western companies at a seminar Tuesday. As senior vice president and top consultant on Russia for the influential Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Thorniley, who holds a doctorate in Soviet political economy from Oxford, is in a position to know. Armed with an arsenal of statistics from a recent EIU survey of 75 major multinationals operating on the local market, Thorniley went on the warpath to debunk the myths about Russia that Western companies who have never done business here believe. According to the EIU survey no company believes that political risk is worsening. Some 82 percent feel it is improving and the remainder see no change. Two-thirds feel the tax environment is getting better. Half judge Russia as a favorable opportunity. More than 80 percent reported making a profit last year. More than half expect sales in 2001 to grow between 10 percent and 25 percent, the St. Petersburg Times reported.

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