Neil Bader, a former footwear industry executive, is looking at the long-term trade possibilities in Russia and other former Soviet states.

In September, Bader formed Rusex Trading Corp. to import and export apparel, footwear and other general merchandise to and from Russia and other former Soviet states. The company, based in Boca Raton, Fla., went into operation in conjunction with a Russian trading firm, Smirap.

Now, Bader has also established Rusex Trade Agency, a separate subsidiary, also based in Boca Raton, to represent U.S. companies interested in marketing their products in the former Soviet Union.

Bader, who is the company's president, previously was executive vice president of Marx & Newman -- a division of U.S. Shoe Corp. -- and most recently was chief operating officer of Caressa Inc.

"We see this as an opportunity to manufacture Western quality and Western brands in these newly independent states," said Bader. "They also have been seeing these goods and have developed the same tastes and desires as the West."

Bader estimated, however, that only about 10 percent of the Russian population has the money to purchase Western goods.

He projects first-year wholesale business at about $2.5 million. Currently, Rusex is exporting women's and men's footwear and casual apparel to Russia and importing Russian work boots to the U.S. and South and Central America. Rusex has set up offices in the Russian cities of Moscow, Ufa and St. Petersburg.

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