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    French Firms Flock to Moscow Business Forum in Hope of Cracking Russian Market

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    French small- and medium-sized businesses are keen to beat rivals from the Far East to Russian custom, French financial newspaper La Tribune reported on Thursday.

    French small- and medium-sized businesses are keen to enter the Russian market, French financial newspaper La Tribune reported on Thursday.

    The newspaper reported on 30 companies in France's Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region, which are planning to visit the first-ever French-Russian business forum, in Moscow next week.

    The event is organized by France's General Confederation of Small and Medium-Sized Employers (CGPME), and French firms hope to use the opportunity to develop their business in Russia.

    Daniel Strazzeri is president of industrial valve manufacturer Tecofi, which has been operating in Russia for 20 years. Despite Russia's recent economic downturn, his company of 110 employees made one-quarter of its turnover ($35 million) in Russia last year.

    Strazzeri shared his advice for other companies wanting to break into the Russian market.

    "You have to be persistent, you have to convince them of the quality of your product. You have to remember that operating in Russia is more costly in terms of travel, time and certificates. Russians are looking to China more and more, but they prefer Europeans," Strazzeri revealed.

    Philippe Meunier, a member of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes regional council, told La Tribune that the regional government organized the trip as part of its strategy to concentrate international cooperation in a few key areas.

    "We decided to refocus our work on the international scene in a few priority areas, in order to avoid spreading ourselves too thin," Meunier explained.

    Jean-Loup Durousset is president of a chain of Lyon-based medical clinics, called Noalys. He said that his firm has been in talks with the Russian authorities about opening medical facilities there.

    "It's great that France is showing interest in Russian healthcare. They value our healthcare system and place it in the top five. There are a lot of possible projects."

    "We have about ten requests to build new hospitals across the country. For Russians, this is a proof of our openness," Durousset said.

    David Gaillard is a representative from the export department of pool construction and maintenance company Desjoyaux Piscines. He told La Tribune that his company is going to the business forum in search of an importer to help his company sell more pools and eventually open tens of stores in Russia.

    "We've sold 250 pools in the past ten years. We don't have a big share of the market and we only have two dealers, one in St. Petersburg and one in Samara. Now we need to find a Russian importer who will distribute our products on the basis of franchising," Gaillard explained.

    "It's hard to estimate how many pools there are in Russia, because most of them are built by small companies. Our innovative technology means that we can have success in Russia," he said.

    In June, Russian airline Aeroflot launched a new route, from Moscow to the regional capital of Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes, Lyon. The new route will operate four times a week, and make life significantly easier for businesses in the south of France seeking to expand their operations in Russia.

    French food producers and suppliers of agricultural equipment are also keen to export to Russia. 

    In July a representative of French wine-maker Liber Pater Bordeaux visited Crimea and announced the company's intention to set up a joint venture there with Russia's Vinteks, which already produces wine in Krasnodarskiy Kray, RIA Novosti reported.

    Earlier this month, Crimea-based food producer Crimean Seafood announced it had reached agreement with French suppliers to build an oyster farm on the peninsula.

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