Long Beach Press-Telegram (Long Beach, CA)
Posted on August 8, 2000
By Keith Higginbotham
LONG BEACH, Calif.--Three members of the Russian Federation Duma, or parliament, toured the Port of Long Beach on Friday and engaged in frank discussions about international trade issues with Long Beach harbor commissioners.
U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Huntington Beach, hosted the Russian legislators in the Los Angeles area through a Library of Congress program, the Russian Leadership Program 2000. A 20-member delegation from the Duma spent several days in Washington D.C. before splitting into three groups to tour Chicago, Philadelphia or Los Angeles.
"It is very important that the Duma members see what is on the other side of the Pacific Rim," said Kathleen Hollingsworth, the district director for Rohrabacher. "We hope this will give them a solid picture of the port when they make decisions about trade."
Aleksandra Bourataeva, Gennady Gamza, and Fandas Safiullin represent regions of Russia and serve as deputies of the Duma's Committee on International Affairs, which is regarded as second in influence only to the Duma Budget Committee. The 15-member panel makes decisions affecting international trade with Russia.
Representing the port on the tour were board Commissioners Roy Hearrean, John Calhoun and board President John Kashiwabara.
During the tour, the delegates were treated to an up-close view of the unloading of the Russian container ship Vladivostok at Pier C.
The tour ended with a frank yet amiable discussion of U.S. and Russian business relations.
Commissioner Roy Hearrean outlined what he saw as several of the problems that American companies face in dealing with Russian firms.
"One of the big problems," Hearrean told the delegates, "is that the U.S. often assumes that the rest of the world does business the American way."
He recommended that the Russians encourage partnerships that educate U.S. companies about Russian business practices. In Russia, as well as other parts of the world, corporate kickbacks and payoffs to officials are common, while the practice is illegal in the U.S.
The delegates agreed with Hearrean but emphasized that American investment is important for future Russian reforms. "Time is critical," said Safiullin. "American support is very valuable if timely, so why don't you come over now?"
The delegates were upbeat. "I would have been a pessimist," said Bourataeva, "if I had not seen the Vladivostok unloading here. This makes me optimistic."
Reprinted with the permission of the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Reproduction does not imply endorsement.
[Reprinted with Permission]