Talking to each other, getting to know one another and understanding each other better – this is what the members of the Hanse have been focussing on for years. Personal contact builds trust and is often the first step towards successful (trade) relations. This also applies for Russian partners – despite the tense political situation. Together with the Wirtschaftshanse several German companies visited the Russian town of Veliky Novgorod and met up with business and municipality officials there. The participants experienced on site how Hanseatic values are put into practice.
Despite Western sanctions against Russia, which the EU has recently extended, the Russian economy is slowly recovering. This is partly due to the significantly increased trade between German and Russian companies. Not only the figures of the German-Russian Chamber of Foreign Trade (AHK) but also those of the German Federal Statistical Office prove that the movement of goods between the two countries has risen considerably since the beginning of the year. Russia is an interesting but also difficult trade partner for the German economy. The country offers many opportunities due to its backlog demand as far as industrialisation is concerned and due to its abundance of natural resources. However, entrepreneurs also complain about bureaucratic hurdles, corruption and the fact that without certain contacts it is only very difficult to gain a foothold in Russia.
In contrast to this, the people taking part in the business trip of the Wirtschaftsbund HANSE e. V. to the Russian Hanseatic town of Veliky Novgorod make completely different statements. “Our members trust one another and act along the lines of honourable businessmen,” says Marion Köhn, managing director of the Wirtschaftshanse. “Companies and municipalities of the Wirtschaftsbund are committed to a code of honour and maintain the values of the old and new Hanse such as honesty, trust and fairness in their relationship with one another.”
The aim of the business trip of the Wirtschaftshanse was not to make quick business deals. “As a member of the Hanse we are committed to trust and reliability. Maintaining contacts and interacting on a trust basis with one another are important factors for us. This is often the basis for sustainable relations which later on result in joint business transactions or establishing new contacts and projects,” says Roman Nisanov, managing director of Novgord Becon GmbH which belongsto the Adept Group.
For the first time the company Tenderfoot from Ibbenbüren joined the Wirtschaftshanse on its trip. Tenderfoot constructs high-quality flooring systems worldwide for livestock farming of pigs and calves. “Although we were initially strangers, the people on this business trip treated each other with trust and respect,” says Sven Grothaus, managing director of Tenderfoot. Up to now business contacts were often established via Russian consultants acting as intermediaries so to speak before any direct contact was actually made. This was completely different in Veliky Novgorod. “We spoke directly with decision-makers in the companies. This was new and impressive for us.” Hanse member Dipl.-Ing. Bernhard Surmann, managing director of miprotek, a company for automation systems from Buxtehude confirmed this by saying, “We met up with managing directors and decision-makers on a municipal level and had interesting and confidential conversations with them.”
The business trip came about after being invited by the Russian Adept Group. With over 3,700 staff members and a growth rate of about ten percent per year the agricultural group belongs to the largest dynamically growing companies of the Russian agricultural sector and is the largest employer in Veliky Novgorod. The company wants to expand to a great extent and is looking for business partners in Germany. Already in spring the Adept Group visited several German companies and established first contacts. Now German companies were invited for a return visit. Among others the delegation of representatives of Agravis (Melle), Meier-Brakenberg (Extertal), miprotek (Buxtehude) and Tenderfoot (Ibbenbüren) visited a modern grain and fodder production site, a poultry breeding station as well as two companies for processing poultry and pigs into end products. Moreover, the participants gained insight into the cultivation methods of various kinds of grain. “Our hosts not only showed us all the areas of their company but also discussed problems with a remarkable degree of openness and told us about their plans to establish a further cattle station for 2800 animals,” Sven Grothaus reports.
Instead of sanctions the Wirtschaftshanse rather counts on fair and trustworthy cooperation. “On the basis of direct contact and personal conversations with one another we can create a basis of trust and get to know and understand each other better. This encourages cooperation and helps to get rid of prejudices on both sides,” explains Marion Köhn. Yuri Bobryschew, mayor of Veliky Novgorod, adds, “The members of the Hanse used to talk and act fairly as partners already in the Middle Ages. We still do this today and this distinguishes us as Hanseatic citizens.” Managing director Roman Nisanov has already announced a further visit to Germany in November in order to deepen conversations and contacts.