January 14, 2005: Headlines: COS - Russia: COS - Ukraine: Chamber of Commerce: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: Ukraine RPCV Paul Hinshaw heads communications at chamber in Russia

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Russia: Peace Corps Russia : The Peace Corps in Russia: January 14, 2005: Headlines: COS - Russia: COS - Ukraine: Chamber of Commerce: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal: Ukraine RPCV Paul Hinshaw heads communications at chamber in Russia

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Ukraine RPCV Paul Hinshaw heads communications at chamber in Russia

Ukraine RPCV Paul Hinshaw heads  communications at chamber in Russia

Ukraine RPCV Paul Hinshaw heads communications at chamber in Russia

Northeast Mississippi man heads communications at chamber in Russia

Jan 14, 2005

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Tupelo, Miss.

by Emily Lecoz

Jan. 14--WEST POINT, Miss. -- Where most Americans see Russia as a struggling economy, Paul Hinshaw sees it as an emerging powerhouse.

Where most Americans see the former communist state as dying, Hinshaw sees it returning to life.

Where most Americans think bread lines and babushkas, Hinshaw thinks beauty and bounty.

As one could guess, Hinshaw isn't like most Americans.

The West Point native is communications manager for the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, the organization whose mission involves promoting economic relations between the republican federation and foreign investors.

Launched in 1994 with a handful of token members, AmCham -- as the group is diminutively called -- today counts more than 800 local and foreign members all banking on the country's future.

"AmCham is the most influential foreign business association in Russia," said Hinshaw, a 1988 graduate of West Point High School who joined the group in August. "Most members are huge international companies with large investments in Russia."

And Russia wants to woo them. Since the fall of the communist regime, the re-emerging government has restructured tax codes, enacted new business codes and created a market-friendly environment. It hopes to join the World Trade Organization this year -- a goal Hinshaw called lofty but possible.

"A lot of times, the government still passes measures that aren't too business friendly," Hinshaw admitted. "But despite (President Vladimir) Putin's rhetoric, Russia is very interested in drawing foreign investors."

Those investors include Heinz LLC, Ford Motor Co., ExxonMobil, Coca-Cola Export Corp. and Holiday Inn. They come from the United States, Japan, France, China and England. Their money fuels confidence in the Russian economy, and the economy is growing because of it, Hinshaw said.

That wasn't always the case. When Hinshaw first visited the country in 1993 during a weekend break from semester studies in Finland, Russia was still reeling from the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of communism.

But something about the people and the strangeness of the land fascinated Hinshaw, who was then a student at Mississippi State University. Upon his return, he enrolled in a Russian language class and by autumn 1994, Hinshaw landed a scholarship to study Russian in St. Petersburg.

"I wanted an international career, and from a career standpoint, learning Russian made good sense since not a lot of people could speak it," Hinshaw said. "But I also wanted an adventure."

What Hinshaw thought would be a one-year adventure turned into a decade love affair with the country that has kept him overseas nearly every day since 1994.

After his studies ended, Hinshaw spent 212 years with the Peace Corps in Ukraine, worked one year in Samara establishing Internet access through the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs program. A promotion in 2000 led him to Moscow, where he now works with AmCham.

"Russia's business climate is extremely well right now," said Hinshaw, who handles all English language communications for AmCham. "In 1998, Russia defaulted on foreign debts. Now it has $150 billion in its budget. And because of the vast energy resources it sits on, Russia is going to be a big global player."

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Russia "holds the world's largest natural gas reserves, the second largest coal reserves, and the eighth largest oil reserves." It is also "the world's largest exporter of natural gas, the second largest oil exporter, and the third largest energy consumer."

Despite its economic strength, the country still struggles. Terrorism plagues Russia's desire for international might as its citizens live in constant fear of another deadly siege, such as those at a Moscow theater in 2002 or at a Belsan elementary school in September.

"It's very real," Hinshaw said of the threat. "Russians are almost hardened to it. But the country is still progressing, and that's important. We can't lose sight of our goals."

When this story was posted in January 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

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Story Source: Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Russia; COS - Ukraine; Chamber of Commerce



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