Foreign Companies Seek Level Playing Field in Coronavirus Response

The year 2020 was supposed to be one of celebration for the Association of European Businesses (AEB), as the main lobbying organization for foreign companies and investors in Russia is turning 25, The Moscow Times writes.

Just three weeks into the job, new chief executive Tadzio Schilling has found himself trying to navigate the AEB’s 500-plus members through the most complicated and potentially devastating economic crisis in the organization’s history.

“The stakes are high,” the 42 year old, who replaced long-serving Frank Schauff at the head of the AEB at the beginning of May, told The Moscow Times in his first interview in the role. “I’m not unhappy about the fact that I’m entering the role at a moment when our members need us most. This is a moment when they face huge and unprecedented challenges, and I’m very glad that I can start by helping them.”

Schilling sees his most pressing task as ensuring the voices of European companies and investors are heard inside the Russian administration. With billions of rubles in support being dished out to get Russia’s economy firing again, he doesn’t want the foreigners to be left behind, the Times adds.

“We need to make sure that our members — who have invested billions of euros and dollars in the Russian economy — are perceived as what they are: full subjects of the Russian economy that provide the same kind of employment and value in Russia as Russian organizations,” he said, speaking via video call. “That’s why we advocate very strongly that there be no discrimation in regard to accessing the support measures and support mechanisms that are being put in place, and to really adopt the perspective of GDP, not a national perspective.”

It’s part of what Swiss-born Schilling calls the “level playing field” he wants Russia to adopt in its economic response to the coronavirus, as he points to what happens once the immediate economic turmoil has passed.

“There is also a day after the crisis and then the question will be how to attract more foreign investment, how to motivate businesses … to expand their capacities in Russia,” he said. “Business will remember the extent to which they have been supported during the crisis.”

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