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Far East with a folk tint

A few abstracts to the national program

Not so long ago, the presidential plenipotentiary in the Far Eastern Federal District, Yuri Trutnev, instructed the Ministry for the Development of the Far East to organize a collection of opinions of the residents of the region in order to find out how they see its development. The corresponding national program should be formed in accordance with the instructions given by Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Eastern Economic Forum this year.

Far East with a folk tint

The idea of ​​“asking the locals” is quite new, because previously the Ministry of the East was developing on its own. The reasons for its appearance are not mentioned, but it is possible that there are doubts about the completeness of information used by the ministry and its subordinate structures. So far they are operating with some ideal object called “Far East”, with a model that somehow correlates with the real territory, but it is not. Therefore, a toolkit calculated from the parameters of an ideal object may not give planned results when applied to real material with an unknown morphology. Attempts to ignore the properties of the material, as shown by recent elections, can have quite negative consequences that can slow down the development of the megaproject.

To begin with, the views of the state and the population of the region on the development of the latter differ significantly. The current position of the state on the development of the region is articulated in the Federal Target Program “Economic and Social Development of the Far East and the Baikal Region” until 2018, which aimed to “create conditions for the accelerated development of the Far East and turn it into a competitive region with a diversified economy, the structure of which is highly dominated -technological production with high added value ". There is no information about the results of the implementation of the state program, but there is every reason to believe that the planned indicators, if they are achieved, then, as in all previous (Soviet and Russian) programs of the development of the macroregion, are only formal.

The modern interpretation of goal-setting in relation to the region is as follows: the Far East today is a springboard for the Russian economy to “turn to the east” (although some economists consider this vector not a new paradigm, but a forced step in the context of exhaustion of opportunities to increase export earnings in European markets). The main direction of state policy of the last 15 years was the “embedding” of Russia into the Asia-Pacific region through the integration of the Far East into the economic processes of this region (“transnational resource transit”, as defined by academician Pavel Minakir), to put it simply - East Asia oil, gas, coal, wood and fish. This focused on projects for the construction of oil and gas pipelines, port terminals and the modernization of the railway. 

recent decision the Russian government on the allocation of another 8,4 billion rubles. on the development of the Far East, they are completely within the same logic: it is planned to complete the bridge across the Amur (the fact that the bridge was built not in Blagoveshchensk, but in the remote taiga allows us to consider it a new channel for exporting the Amur forest and mineral resources to China), to expand the Primorye-1 transport corridors "And" Primorye-2 ", to ensure the development of the Ignalina mining and processing plant (coal) and the construction of a pulp and paper mill in the Khabarovsk Territory, as well as to modernize the Khabarovsk airport.

New projects in recent years - Zvezda, VNHK, NZMU and AGHK show a shift in the direction of development from the transit of raw materials to “secondary industrialization”, the rate for the development of processing, processing and increasing the added value of production. The trend to build transit infrastructure has not gone away, but it is being implemented at the expense of the resources of private companies.

Development is measured in such parameters as population growth in the territory and increase in the production of GRP. The starting point for setting the tasks is a comparison of the state of affairs in the FEFD with other regions of Russia (according to average Russian indicators) and comparison with neighboring Chinese provinces, which should result not only in the expansion of East Asian exports, but also in the activation of local economic life, tax deductions. Subtasks are the development of infrastructure and the growth of the domestic market due to the increase in population.


For Russia, embedding into the East Asian center of economic growth is hampered by the low level of institutional and infrastructural security of the Far Eastern subjects. Since the possibilities for integration are predetermined by geography and natural resources - that is, reduced to transit and the supply of raw materials - then we should not expect Asian investors to locate production in the region and, moreover, make any investments in the creation of its infrastructure. Therefore, the state forms a collective development agent in the person of the Ministry of Eastern and Eastern Development, the CDA, the FRDV and other institutions whose task is to launch the process of “investors” calling and localization of production in specially designated “priority development areas” (TOR). It can be both Russian and foreign companies, projects can be anything (except for the extraction of raw materials), since the main indicator is the volume of invested funds. 

In the absence of large industrial investors from abroad, the state attracts state corporations and large businesses to the region to implement large projects, the economic justifications for which are not always obvious. Similar benefits can be obtained for residents of the Free Port of Vladivostok. To attract additional population to the region, a procedure has been launched to distribute "Far Eastern hectares", in which recipients can engage in agriculture or tourism business.

The practice of using PDAs as economic enclaves where investments should be concentrated already has a certain history in the region and allows us to draw some conclusions, the main of which is absence visible economic effects from the use of this tool. Perhaps because too little time has passed, and perhaps because of the use of it is not quite on purpose and without complying with the instructions. The problem of special zones is good described by economiststhat highlight four types of tasks they solve: a) attracting foreign direct investment, b) reducing the high level of unemployment, c) supporting the ongoing large-scale economic reform in the country and d) testing new strategies and approaches to economic development. Such tasks, as far as can be judged, were not formulated by the developers of the laws on TOR and the Free Port of Vladivostok (SPV). 

Researchers also point out the “awareness problem” that arises in countries with high political centralization when creating SEZs: officials, designing a zone with a special legal and tax regime, usually do not have enough knowledge to fulfill this task about important features of the market and society that can affect SEZ success. As a result, SEZ planning fails, and reducing the tax burden instead of explosive production growth leads to an inefficient distribution of economic activity in the region: not foreign companies that avoid investments under high economic risks, but Russian businessmen who do not find the best alternatives to increase profits.

There are several consequences of this process: first, instead of the planned arrival in East Asia of producers from East Asia who would have to produce products for subsequent export to the markets of third countries, we see mainly Far Eastern companies working for the local market and receiving non-market advantages in front of colleagues who are not included in the top. Rare foreign residents are also not engaged in production for export, but entering through the PDA to the domestic market of the region, increasing the risks for local producers. Secondly, there is the problem of the multiplicative effect of economic growth, which TORs should produce at the place of deployment: it should be expected if the strategy of interregional and inter-sectoral cooperation turns out to be more beneficial for residents than specialization and competition.

So far, the second tendency prevails: according to local businessmen, large “anchor investors” do not form a pool of local contractors and suppliers around themselves, preferring to work with their own. Among the contractors of the largest investors in the Primorsky Territory ASEZ - "Zvezda" and "Rusagro" - there are practically no Primorye companies, contracts go to the already existing partners of corporations. Labor needs are also met not by hiring local workers, but by bringing them in from other regions (in part, this is due to the lack of locally qualified personnel). The local authorities were not in the best position either, from which the territory was taken away without guarantees of growth in taxes and employment, since in some cases local small business from the vicinity of the TOP does not prosper, but goes bankrupt.

As for the “Far Eastern hectare”, then the hope for it, as a way to attract people from the western part of the country to the region, was not justified from the start. The modern experience of providing free land (for example, in Canada) shows that the distribution of land is not a means for the authorities to retain and attract the population. On the contrary, this method solves the problem of transition to an economy corresponding to a smaller population of the region. We add that in Canada, this policy is implemented when the number of plots within one municipality is limited and with careful selection of applicants. 

In agriculture today there is a tendency to consolidate land assets, which is true for the Far East: those who want to seriously engage in farming in the area of ​​risky farming need one or two thousand hectares, and on one hectare you can build a vertical farm that is fashionable among futurologists. Tourism in the absence of infrastructure and potential customers also does not look like a good business idea. It is natural that the visitors' start-up histories of business projects are few, and the majority of recipients are locals who have specific plans and resources for this land. 


The 90s for the Far East were a period of deindustrialization, and by 2000, the population left without control and support of the state built up their legal, semi-legal and illegal businesses (or fields, as defined by SG Kordonsky) in the free economic space with the extraction and sale of natural resources, either with cross-border operations, or with a service. The share of entrepreneurs and self-employed, according to some estimates, reached 25% of the economically active population. 

The return of the state to 2010, with its large-scale investments and the accompanying army of controllers, according to the hypothesis of Professor Leonid Blyakher, for this part of the population meant scrapping of part of the industries or a decrease in their rate of return. The classic example is the business of supplying Japanese cars, which provided jobs and decent incomes to several hundred thousand people, and its destruction by the efforts of the state did not pass without a trace: by many Far Easterners it is perceived as an external insurmountable and impersonal force whose interests have little to do with their daily lives, and nothing good can be expected from him.

For the budget and hired part of the population, all the effects of industrial and post-industrial development are delayed for decades, it is of little concern to the geopolitics and geo-economics of the state, and the basic values ​​are: a) survival in the proposed (very difficult) conditions, and b) arrangement in the same conditions comfortable life. 

If you ask these people about development, they will most likely say - these are salaries, roads, electricity, running water, decent housing. Probably mentioned hospitals and schools. From the point of view of this set of values, the population has not yet received from the “development projects” a noticeable improvement in the quality of life. Large-scale investments in the infrastructure of Vladivostok did not become a driver of fundamental changes in the regional economy. The presence of the pipeline did not lead to the gasification of local housing. Coal terminals are sources of pollution of the beach area, causing protests of the population in Nakhodka, and so on.

Vacancies in new enterprises, as a rule, require specific qualifications that the local population for the most part does not have - from petrochemists to cosmodrome workers, such corporate personnel are attracted through their networks, or they have to be searched throughout the country for the Human Development Agency. Work easier for local ones is also not guaranteed: for example, it is more profitable for investors to import builders from abroad, as it happened on a large scale when building objects for the APEC 2012 summit of the year.


So, there is a situation in which the state, having set a goal to develop the region, cannot provide it only on its own, and business does not find such a development model attractive. At the same time, it is clear that the development of the Far Eastern economy is possible only through the division of functions between several participants: the state is responsible for investments in structural projects (roads, ports, energy), private business takes on the rest. The likely way out is to include a business not related to state corporations in the discussion of the conditions under which it is ready to participate in the megaproject.

This chance should be used to adjust the megaproject in order to increase the efficiency of budget expenditures and achieve synergies between government and business efforts. Offhand, the following steps appear relevant. 

It is necessary to synchronize the construction of infrastructure in TOR with the plans of the resident companies; to assess the effectiveness of "development institutions" and establish a mode of their communication with local authorities; provide entities and municipalities with the opportunity to participate in the management of PDA; change the template of the residency agreement in the TOR, making it rules on the involvement of local business in the implementation of "anchor" projects. In the program of the “Far Eastern hectare”, it would be useful to set up a filter for those who want to receive it - for example, a business plan and confirmation of the availability of funds for starting a business should be attached to the application. The national program should include measures to create a comfortable business environment. For the population, such things as access to public goods, transport mobility and the ability to generate incomes that ensure an adequate quality of life within the local economy are still important.

In conclusion, it is worth saying a few words about important megatrends. The Far East found itself in a situation of “double-catching development”: Asian neighbors are running very fast, therefore the growth rates in the subjects of the Far East Federal District should be higher than the average Russian ones. At the same time, it is necessary to finish building the industry at the same time and start building the post-industry: it is believed that it is impossible to ensure post-industrial development on a non-industrialized territory (though the residents of Sakha-Yakutia do not agree with this, and without waiting for a bridge across the Lena, build an IT-technology park on the permafrost ). 

It is appropriate to recall the thesis of Peter Shchedrovitsky expressed in his lectures on the division of labor systems (CPT) in Vladivostok in July this year: he described TOR and SPV as places of horizontal CPT (i.e. production chains) whose creation strategy does not correlate with the creation strategy vertical CPT (knowledge creation chains) in the APR - the so-called “knowledge clusters”. So far, the only cluster of this kind is planned to be created on Russky Island, and for the Far East it is a chance to integrate into the infrastructure of the “third industrial revolution” in the APR, therefore local players should be included in its design (Far East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Far Eastern Federal University, Far Eastern high-tech companies). Otherwise, the region risks getting stuck in the position of a supplier of raw materials and a local industrial site occupied by industries whose location is weakly related to the geographical and economic characteristics of the territory.
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