There are a number of factors that contributed to the development of the international relations of Tomsk Oblast in the 1990s. First, Tomsk opened up for foreign visitors. Second, large Tomsk enterprises such as the Siberian Chemical Plant and the petrochemical company Tomskneftekhim immediately took advantage of the new opportunity to attract foreign orders and investments. Third, the international programs TACIS and TEMPUS gave a start to international initiatives of Tomsk universities such as joint implementation of educational programs with foreign universities, establishment of representative offices abroad, creation of research centers in cooperation with foreign companies and own research institutes in the city.
Today, Tomsk Oblast has established foreign economic ties with 59 countries. Among the major economic partners of the region are Germany, Kazakhstan, China, Kirghizia, Lithuania, the USA, Uzbekistan, the Ukraine, Finland, France. The chief exports are chemical products, wood, machines and equipment. The region imports products of agricultural and chemical industries, complex equipment, industrial machines.
With Germany Tomsk Oblast has the most long-standing economic relationship. In April 1996 a large delegation from Tomsk Oblast for the first time visited Germany where they presented the economic potential of the region. Since 1997 Tomsk Oblast has regularly taken part in the Hanover Fair.
In the 2000s, as the country's wealth grew and globalization accelerated, the regions became more actively involved in the international relations, among them Tomsk Oblast. Since 2000 the region has held receptions and negotiations with over 200 official foreign delegations. Many of the delegations were headed by Ambassadors and Ministers.
The key milestones in the international relations of Tomsk Oblast were the VIII Russian-German Intergovernmental Consultations where the then Russian President Vladimir Putin held negotiations with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in April 2006, and Tomsk Oblast's triumph in the contest to host a special economic zone of technical innovation type. Those events generated a great wave of interest in the region from foreign companies and countries. The annual number of foreign delegations to Tomsk doubled, foreign trips of the Tomsk delegations grew by a third.
In 2007-2008 Tomsk Oblast was the key initiator and sponsor of the Year of Siberia in Germany. The events included two major presentations of the regions of the Siberian Federal District in Hanover and Stuttgart under the motto On the other side of oil and gas. With that experience Tomsk Oblast demonstrated its ability to arrange participation of all the West Siberia in major international events on the highest level.
France is the second important European partner of Tomsk Oblast. With remarkable support from the French Embassy in Russia the region established strong ties with Lorraine. This mutually beneficial cooperation covers commerce, research and development, education and culture. There is a plan to open in Tomsk a Russian-French technology transfer center and the center for the French language and culture Alliance Francaise.
For a long time the USA were the key trading partner of Tomsk Oblast with heavy export of chemical products. All American Ambassadors to Russia since 1991 visited Tomsk. From the early 1990s many government (USAID) and non-governmental (Soros Foundation) programs were implemented in the humanitarian sphere together with the USA. Currently, Tomsk Oblast and the USA are working on a major project - the Washington Group International are reconstructing the coal fired power plant of the Siberian Chemical Plant which should replace capacities of closed reactors of the nuclear station. The American Chamber of Commerce in Russia is showing great interest in the innovative potential and investment opportunities of Tomsk Oblast.
China is the key trading partner of Tomsk Oblast in Asia. The Oblast took active part in the events organized within the framework of the national years of Russia and China (in 2006 and 2007), which gave boost to cooperation with the provinces Liaoning and Shandong. Shandong is implementing in Tomsk Oblast a large investment project for creation of an industrial facility to manufacture value added wood products. Tomsk construction and oil and gas companies buy equipment from China and employ many Chinese workers. In 2008 the Chinese cultural and educational center Confucius Institute was opened in the Tomsk State University.
The relations between Tomsk Oblast and Japan began in 2005, when the Oblast was presented in the JETRO head-quarters - Japan External Trade Organization. The cooperation is enhanced by the Association of Japanese and Tomsk Industrial and Cultural Relations, as well as by the business missions of ROTOBO - Japanese Association for Trade with Russia and Central-Eastern Europe. In 2008 Tomsk Oblast held two presentations of the region in Moscow and Japan for the Japanese businesses. Nowadays, Tomsk hosts PANASONIC R&D Center, TOYOTA, MITSUBISHI and HONDA Dealer and Service Centers. Quite a few Japanese companies take interest in the developments of Tomsk Research Institutes. Relations between Tomsk and Japanese Universities are in full swing. Japanese companies are glad to employ graduates from Tomsk universities.
Over the recent years the sales volume has significantly risen between Tomsk Oblast and CIS countries, primarily with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In 2008 Tomsk Oblast accomplished trade and economic mission in Kazakhstan. As a result of the mission memorandums of cooperation were signed with three Kazakhstan regions. One of the strategic priorities for Tomsk Oblast in that region is focused on the development of research and academic relations, cooperation in health care, culture and work with fellow countrymen. Tomsk Oblast hosts currently 25 ethnic organizations including 8 centers for ethnic minorities from CIS countries. Most active among them are the Kazakh, Uzbek and Ukrainian communities.
Tomsk Oblast is actively broadening its international contacts in both European and Asian directions. India, Australia, Korea, Israel, the UK, the Netherlands and Austria have joined the list of our partners.
Tomsk Oblast leads its international activity under the motto Island of intelligence in the ocean of resources. With two competitive advantages such as abundant natural and human resources the Oblast stakes on the knowledge economy development based on the strong research and academic system.
Monetary value of the trade turnover is split between the CIS region - 40.4% and other foreign countries - 59.6%. The steady foreign trading partners include the USA, France, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, China, Germany, the Ukraine, Mongolia, Kirghizia, Poland and Afghanistan.
The monetary value of the trade turnover with France, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Kirghizia, Poland and Afghanistan has increased, and reduced with the USA, China, Germany and the Ukraine, compared to 2007.