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Moscow market helps to fashion trade links

New trade links across the former Iron Curtain could give a cash boost of thousands of pounds to London businesses.

Fashion-conscious Russians in Moscow have been snapping up clothes made in Islington - and Londoners could soon be picking up art bargains from Russia and Georgia.

The money-spinning ventures are among the first organised by the Finsbury-based International Centre for Cultural and Business Relations.

Its early success has led to ambitious plans to hold its first annual conference this November with about 300 delegates from the former Soviet republics.

Business consultant Tony Stratton, who helped to set up the centre, said: 'The clothes made in Islington went down brilliantly with the people in Moscow.

'They seem to like anything with a British label on it and the good thing is that it will bring money back into Islington.

The centre, which also has offices in Moscow and Tbilisi - was opened in May after being founded by Georgian film director Georgi Levashov-Tumanishvili.

It is supported by the United Nations and the European Union, and offices are provided at a peppercorn rent by Islington council. The centre aims to develop trade and plough profits into developing cultural links and charity projects

'I felt I needed to try and do more for Georgia, said Mr Levashov-Tumanishvili, who has lived in London for five years.

The group's first big project was to set up a street market in south Moscow to sell pounds 700,000 of suits and dresses made in Islington. A shop may be opened in the city and plans are under way to open a store in Islington selling goods, including paintings, from Russia and other republics.

Islington council added: 'We hope that by promoting business relations there will be definite economic benefits for the area.