Prince George is a long way from home for a group of Russian delegates visiting B.C from the territory of Khabarovsk.
But a development program linking businesses and government is starting to bringing the two countries a little closer together.
The group, here as part of a four-year Canadian International Development Agency McGregor-Russia project, learned international accounting practices and toured local businesses similar to their own in Russia’s far east.
The Nanaiskoe Regional Consumers Cooperatives Association runs a series of seasonal businesses including a bakery, sausage manufacturing shop, the production of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, macaroni and smoked meats. They also develop what they can out of the surrounding forest, including wild berries, birch juice, ferns and fur pelts from everything from raccoons to squirrels and Siberian polecats.
While here, the group toured a number of businesses including Homesteader Meats, Canadian Springs, Windows on Westwood, bakeries, value-added wood products and birch syrup factory in Quesnel.
Besides picking up some bakery equipment in Vancouver, the men hope to establish a number of contacts with Prince George business owners. Vladimir Oschanovski is impressed with local hunting and trapping techniques but says in Russia they don’t have as many government regulations to worry about.
“The goal is to create opportunities for business people from both countries to cooperate and trade technology and product,” he says. “Even if it does not create joint ventures they can coordinate having business contact both in Canada and in Russia,” he says.
The female accountants toured the city and learned about western accounting practices so that when their territory does start receiving more investors from the west, the country will be able to provide financial information in a standardized form.
Svetlana Zotova, the chief accountant for the McGregor Model Forest offices in Khabarovsk, says the tax laws and investment structure in Khabarovsk is changing.
“We welcome new business,” she told a room of interested sponsors and businessmen at CNC Monday.
Ever since new regulations were adopted in 1998, the country has begun slowly phasing in rules and regulations she says allows the territory to be open for business.
Current investment is lead by Japan (just south east of the main city of Khabarovsk), the U.S. and Switzerland, whose CAT operation there consists of 15 per cent of the total investment.
“We can do better than that,” says Martin Hudson, treasurer of the McGregor Model Forest. He says the idea is to keep the investment projects small, realistic and practical.
The concept is to develop the region’s value added wood processing capacity, non-wood forest products, develop a tourism strategy and, with the help of the World Wildlife Federation create a national park to save a rare species of the Siberian Tiger.
Khabarovsk is home to the northern climes of the 900-pound tiger, of which there are only about 300 left in the world.
In the outlying areas of Khabarovsk, the tigers are about as common as our bears.
The project is paid for in Canada by the McGregor Model Forest Association, CNC, Tourism Prince George, BC Parks, the PG Regional Development Corp. and individual resource-based business people.
The Krai government in Russia guarantees the project, while several other associations include the in the World Wildlife Fund and the Regional government in the outlying territory