Chris Devonshire-Ellis Lectures on China’s OBOR and its Opportunities for Russian Businesses in St. Petersburg

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On November 29, 2017, Chris Devonshire-Ellis, the founder and chairman of Dezan Shira & Associates, gave a lecture at the National Research University-Higher School of Economics (HSE) in St. Petersburg, Russia. HSE is a leading university in Russia and scores competitively in international rankings.

The lecture was given to master’s students in the “Business and Politics in Modern Asia” program, and addressed China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative and its opportunities for Russian businesses.

Devonshire-Ellis split the lecture into two core themes: one explained the great Eurasian partnership and its outcomes for Russia, while the other explored how Russian business people can realize opportunities in Asia.

Chris Lecture on OBOR Initatives 03_副本Devonshire-Ellis’ lecture explained the significance of Asian markets for Russian entrepreneurs, introducing positive new trends in the markets. He explained how countries across Asia- including China and Russia – are institutionalizing relationships and developing new systems to create wealth.

He specifically focused on how free trade and lower VAT-based tax structural regimes are being implemented in places like China and Russia and how these developments relate to the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) as well as the EU.

He explained that these larger reforms were supported by new institutions, infrastructure, and technology – all of which are helping develop new markets and creating new service opportunities.

Devonshire-Ellis’ primary message was more direct: Russian businesses should be looking at Asia. He suggested that businesses in Russia should start to think of themselves as “Eurasian Businesses” to help explore the market potential on their doorstep.

He noted that businesspeople should examine the growth in bilateral trade figures as a beginning to understanding how other businesses are thriving in Asia, before explaining some important trends, including Russia and EAEU imports from Asia as well as Russia and EAEU exports to Asia.

He maintained that business people should follow demographics and its trends when examining emerging markets and their potential. He further noted that e-commerce is changing the way the world buys and consumes products, advising the audience to be prepared and get involved.

Chris Lecture on OBOR Initiatives 01_副本The lecture was well-received by the audience. Following the lecture, one student said “Nowadays, if you want to set up your own business, you should look East and understand what the consumers want to buy and what institutional voids exist”. Devonshire-Ellis had advised “if you cannot earn money in your region, go to another place and earn there”.

Another student appreciated the lecture’s focus on the OBOR: “for me it was interesting to know the opinion of foreign entrepreneur and compare the information [with students’ conferences]. I also found out a lot of new and useful ideas on business practice”. The student continued, “I hope that we will continue to talk about the specifics of setting up small and medium business for foreigners in China to get practical information, which is very limited”.

The lecture proved valuable for students seeking concrete advice on doing business in Asia. One student said, “I’m very interested in Chinese policy, and it was useful to look at it from foreign perspective. Moreover, Chris Devonshire-Ellis has a wealth of experience in doing business in China and ASEAN”.

Silk_Road_Book_CoverDevonshire-Ellis’ book, China’s New Economic Silk Road: The Great Eurasian Game & The String of Pearls, is an authoritative resource for the subjects covered during the lecture.

However, business people that are interested in developing their Eurasian business should also consult the China Briefing, Russia Briefing, and Silk Road Briefing publications.

Beyond this, Dezan Shira & Associates can advise on your investment in Asia across a full suite of business issues, including accounting, tax, legal and HR related issues. For further assistance in doing business in Asia from Russia, please contact our Russian Desk at