Interview with Helmut Bernkopf, Member of the Board of Executive Directors, Österreichische Kontrollbank AG

"The Russian market will continue to be important for domestic exporters"

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Mag. Linda Michalech
Corporate Communications Manager

Sberbank Europe AG
Tel.: +43 1 22732 1300
Mobile: +43 664 8891 3662
linda.michalech@sberbank.at

"The Russian market will continue to be important for domestic exporters"

Helmut BernkopfWhat's in the pipeline for 2018? Can you already see some initial trends emerging with regard to particular industries and regions?

The expected continuation of the economic upswing gives us grounds for confidence: we assume that exports will continue to rise and demand will continue to grow. We expect that the Russian market will continue to be important for domestic exporters, and we've already issued a number of provisional guarantees for potential deals in 2018. Brazil, Turkey and Indonesia are attractive markets, and their importance for domestic exporters is gradually increasing. Iran occupies a special position. In principle, we have also issued a large number of promissory notes for exports to Iran, but the percentage of these that are actually converted into guarantees is minimal. On the one hand, this Middle Eastern market is highly sought after, which is understandable given its size and its huge requirement for modernization. On the other hand, the as yet unresolved compliance and sanctions issues, especially in relation to the USA, are a source of uncertainty and have given rise to a great deal of reticence on the part of the commercial banks who are our clients' financing partners. Aside from the above, we expect a similar trend to what we are seeing at the tail end of this fiscal year.

How is business with Russia developing? What are the main motives prompting Austrian companies to invest in Russia?

Russia is a very strong market for us, this year in fact the strongest of all. Customer demand remains high. All in all, some 500 Austrian companies are active in Russia, some of whom have been there for decades already. In the past few years, one trend has become evident: more and more Austrian exporters are building their own production facilities in Russia. Business links between Russia and Austria are generally close, and this big market still offers potential. The Russian economy is growing again, and exports to Russia are back on the up after the decline of the past few years. In the first half of 2017 alone, Austrian exports rose by 26% year on year. The availability of various raw materials is highly attractive to Austrian firms, with the timber and paper industry in particular making use of this.

What projects and initiatives will OeKB be focusing on to support export business in 2018?

OeKB has been a reliable partner for Austrian exporters for decades now, with attractive products and a strong focus on customer service. We will continue to fulfil this role in 2018. Alongside our well-established guarantee and financing instruments to support exporters, OeKB launched a new product on the market in 2017. Exportinvest, a financing option for domestic investments, offers our customers even greater scope for action. In concrete terms, Exportinvest can be used to finance new and replacement investments in Austria that basically serve export purposes but are not directly linked to a specific foreign order. The prerequisites are an export ratio of at least 20% and an investment sum of over €2 million. This product is absolutely in tune with the zeitgeist.

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