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(photo credit: Courtesy)
Having signed his second pact with a Russian business delegation this year on Sunday, Lev Leviev, chairman of the Israel-Russian Chamber of Commerce, said that Israel is missing out on the great potential that lies in strengthening its trade relations with Russia.
Leviev signed a partnership agreement on Sunday with Oleg Cherkunov, deputy governor of the Perm Region Chamber of Commerce and Industry, during its business delegation's visit to Israel this week.
"I have no doubt that the agreement will boost trade with the region tenfold and make a real contribution to both economies," Leviev said. "The Perm region has annual trade figures of $3 billion, of which only $3 million is with Israel. So the potential for growth is clear."
The agreement follows a pact signed between Russian and Israeli business leaders earlier this year to cooperate in all matters concerning industry, mutual investment, trade and research and development.
Shraga Brosh, president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel and one of the signatories to that pact, agreed that there was an untapped potential in business ties between the two countries and said that the aim was to double their trade to around $3b. in three to four years.
While the Perm delegation's visit is not connected to that agreement, Brosh said he expected to see a lot more groups and exchange of ideas between Israel and Russia this year.
"We are currently building a working program to implement what came out of the March deal," he said.
Meanwhile, the government has listed Russia as one of six countries which show strong potential for economic growth and trade with Israel, along with Korea, China, Brazil, India and Mexico.
In so doing, Ehud Gonen, director of the Central and East European department at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, said the government recently opened a branch in St. Petersburg and has stepped up activity to promote trade between the two countries.
"Our main policy has been to prioritize government-to-government agreements," Gonen said. "We have different working plans for each country and in Russia our main challenge is to help Israeli companies find the right partners and overcome logistical problems that exist there."
Gonen added that part of the ministry's program is to increase the number of delegations to and from Russia and Israeli presence at exhibitions there.
During their two-day visit, the Perm delegation will meet with hi-tech companies, and will visit the Tel Hashomer Medical Center and the Volcani Institute for Agricultural Research.
In the past year, 100 Israeli companies initiated activity in Russia, bringing the total to roughly 900, the Manufacturers Association said. Non-diamond imports to Russia in 2005 grew 24% to $401.5m., while non-diamond imports from Russia to Israel grew 22% to $261.6m.
Situated in the central region of Russia, Perm is one of the country's big industrial, scientific and cultural centers.