The Free Press, Mankato, MN

April 10, 2013

Seminar explores doing business with Russia

By Tim Krohn
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — Viacheslav Grushetskiy gave the pitch on why Mankato area business owners should do business in the Russian Federation.

They have the largest land mass, the world’s sixth largest GDP, the eight largest population, exported $531 billion in goods last year and imported $335 billion worth.

One downside, he admits, is the nine time zones. “That is a challenge for those working even in our country.” 

But Grushetskiy, who spent 30 years as a government trade representative and recently joined a firm that provides intellectual property protection, said joint trade bring joint benefits.

“We believe trade develops both countries,” he said during a seminar Wednesday at Bethany Lutheran College.

For businesses that want to take the international business plunge, good contracts are essential said Mark McNeil of Lindquist & Vennum in Minneapolis.

But the devil is in the details and there are lots of details to consider.

A limited liability corporation, for example, limits liability of owners in the United States. “In other countries it is often considered a partnership with the partners fully liable.”

Determining when a “delivery” takes place is another point — is it delivered when a manufacturer here brings it to a port, once it’s on a ship, once it arrives in the other country, or when it’s in the hands of the customer?

And McNeil warned that any U.S. patent, trademark or registration ends at the U.S. border, requiring companies that want to protect a name or patent to file with the country they’re doing business in.

After detailing the ins and outs of drawing up a solid contract, McNeil had one more tip: Find out if contracts are respected in the country you want to do business in.

Russia, Europe and Japan expect contracts to be followed. Latin America, not so much. And China? “They think contracts are a starting point, a broad guideline, not a binding document.”