Russia's technology market is thriving as the country moves toward membership in the World Trade Organization, an official with US computer giant Hewlett-Packard said here.
Russia is "a very dynamic, cash-rich country with some very strategic assets in today's world -- energy," HP's director of Russia operations Owen-Christopher Kemp said in San Francisco on Tuesday.
Moscow and St. Petersburg are such coveted hubs for technology firms that competition is fierce for engineers and other skilled workers, Kemp said.
In January HP unveiled plans to open up research laboratories in Russia to tap into the country's rich pool of mathematicians.
Russia has the fastest growing information technology market in the world and is expected to continue expanding by nearly 20 percent annually, according to HP, which said its business there was increasing at an even more rapid rate.
Kemp estimates that his company has a 10 percent share of Russia's 14 billion dollar IT market.
Along with a promising consumer market for home computers, Russia has a banking system prime for consolidation and technological updating. And factories in traditional industries such as steel and oil also need to invest in new technologies to be "put in a time warp" to the present, Kemp said.
The Russian government has an estimated 350 billion US dollars in reserves to pay for technology to fulfill goals such as improving education, health care, defense and the power sector, Kemp said.
"The government is sitting on a huge cash and gold bulge," Kemp said, referring to reserves fueled by oil and natural gas exports.
Kemp said Russia's admittance to the WTO would likely result in stricter regulations and a stable legal groundwork for investment.
"What the WTO will do is ramp-up foreign investment which doubled last year over the year before," Kemp said. "That is the wild card on top of already powerful growth."