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Far East in the "figure"

At the WEF sessions, IT infrastructure issues and solutions were discussed.

The digitization of the Russian economy today is a leading trend: the passport of the national program “Digital Economy of the Russian Federation” has recently been approved. It is not surprising that the Fourth Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok was much more “digital” than the previous one - eight sections were devoted in one way or another to this topic. In addition, a short version of the digital intensity “Island 10-21” was rolled, the presentation of the FEFU School of Digital Economics (which, however, was reduced to a solo performance by a prominent adherent of digitalization of the Russian economy - the head of Sberbank German Gref). Before the start of the forum, the regional administration organized the Eastern Upgrade Laboratory for small businesses, which discussed the development prospects for digital entrepreneurship in the region. Not all 8 sections affected the Far East, some of the discussions had the nature of interdepartmental meetings on the implementation of the national program. As a result of the discussions, regional specifics manifested themselves in three directions: IT infrastructure, transport, and cross-border trade.

Far East in the "figure"
Photo: TASS, Photobank VEF
Digitalization is impossible without adequate infrastructure. Nevertheless, it is periodically forgotten about it: for example, during the construction of the space city Svobodny, which was supposed to be a “smart city”, did not lay down the requirements for organizing communications.

The main problem with the IT infrastructure, as noted by the participants of the section of the same name, is the lack of funds from the government for investment. Operators, in turn, do not see benefits for themselves in the development of infrastructure, or see it only for large cities. On the existing infrastructure, it is unprofitable to provide services: to pay back data services, it is necessary to reduce costs in 2-3 times. From this vicious circle there are only three exit models: the US (high effective demand and developed markets), Chinese (infrastructure state investments in low demand regions), and the third - a concession with a non-competitive environment, but with operator obligations, this model is implemented in Brazil in hard-to-reach areas of the Amazon.

For different regions of the Far East, different models are needed: American in the developed south, Chinese in less populated places, and Brazilian in the uninhabited north (uluses in Yakutia, regions of Chukotka and the Magadan region). According to the head of Rostelecom, Mikhail Oseevsky, the PPP format in this area is promising, but the business should offer its models for the concessions to the state.

This thesis was supported by the representative of Rostec Vasily Brovko: the state, not having enough funds for all development projects, actively uses PPP, but for its implementation a responsible business is needed, ready to work in such projects with a smaller share of profits than 10-15 years ago. He divided the IT infrastructure into a baseline, which the state should develop in the 50 orientation for the summer period, and the services that can be created on the basis of this infrastructure - from telemedicine to remote sensing of the earth (RSE), they may be of interest to different investors. Application services may appear at the level of small and medium businesses. At the same time, the state must ensure that the rules of the PPP will not change even 10 years, otherwise the business will not be able to plan its participation in the concession. Mr. Brovko suggested using the DFO as a pilot zone for the introduction of robotics, artificial intelligence and others in advanced development projects in areas unfavorable for the permanent residence of people.

Zhu Xian (BRICS Development Bank) agreed that the state would not have enough money for all types of infrastructure, and proposed to allocate three categories of infrastructures, each of which should be developed in its own way: having commercial potential and providing return on investment, they should be supported by not necessary; infrastructure projects whose income is insufficient for private companies, they need government support in the form of minimum concessions; projects in remote areas that will not generate revenue, state participation in them is critically important.

Vladislav Butenko (Boston Consulting Group) stated the absence of a single simple model for the development of IT infrastructures for the Far East and the exhaustion of opportunities for profitable business projects, as a result of which each project will now have to be calculated and an individual solution selected for it. The new cost model is the sharing between operators and the distribution of costs between operators and the state. Finally, the ICT sphere should not be considered as a separate industry, but as a functional that permeates all industries and should be prepared in advance by the regions in the form of an aggregated plan for creating communication networks.

The thesis of ICT as a functional that permeates all industries received confirmation in other sections. One of the most representative was the section dedicated to the digitalization of transport, which was opened by the speech of one of the main officials responsible for the “number” of officials, Deputy Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Maxim Akimov. He noted that Russia is late with the digitization of transport and logistics chains from the APR, as a place of concentration of world shippers, and urged Russian companies to become a benchmark of digitalization. From the point of view of business processes, transportation is an ideal object for digitalization, which has the potential of increasing efficiency to 35% due to the seamless delivery of cargo, new digital services for the passenger and other technologies. Mr. Akimov proposed to build a “transport digital bridge” in the APR, which would guarantee to all participants of traffic the authenticity of digital signatures and secure operation in a digital environment.

Sergey Ivanov, the presidential special envoy for environmental protection, ecology and transport, supported Akimov, saying that optimizing transportation costs would increase GDP by 1%.

Oleg Belozerov, general director of Russian Railways, described the corporation he managed as the largest owner of information on the transport of goods and passengers, and spoke about the railway digitalization strategy, including external and internal contours. In the outer contour, new services are provided to customers by using the numbers: intermodal and “seamless” transportation, and others. Russian Railways already has a project “Digital Railway”, which implies the creation of an integrated freight management system, including an electronic trading platform. This relieves the process of many documents, the shipper can order the shipment in a few clicks. The system allows you to see where the cars are, to reduce their empty mileage. According to Mr. Belozerov, 3000 shippers have already joined the platform, its turnover exceeds 10 billion rubles. The system includes, besides the railway, also motor transport, warehouses, and in the future it plans to include cargo insurance. RZD provides passengers with travel document services, incl. for multimodal transportation, the ability to book a hotel, etc. The inner loop includes increasing the efficiency of transport processes, optimization of procedures and process chains. This is, for example, a mobile application for railway workers. Together with Japanese specialists, they are testing the sensors of refrigerated containers for perishable goods shipped via Transsib.

The topic of Chinese transit was not ignored: Anton Zamkov (RT-Invest Transport Systems) proposed to equip all cars crossing the border of the Russian Federation and China with GLONASS and Chinese Beidou systems. Qingwei Zhang (First Secretary of the CPC Committee of Heilongjiang Province) called for the implementation of the joint project "Northeast Asia Logistics Information Port". Finally, Viktor Parakhin (FSUE ZashchitaInfoTrans) proposed creating a “space of trust” for the EurAsEC on the basis of a single digital platform, including “digital transport corridors”. Such a platform, in the speaker's opinion, could contain information about the cargo, provide accelerated passage of customs procedures, multimodal transportation, seamless and barrier-free transportation. This will reduce the time of transportation of goods along the "green corridor" from China to the EU from 20 to 5 days. The speaker recommended using the Primorye-2 transport corridor as a testing ground, for which to equip a section of the road in this corridor with "smart" infrastructure, to launch unmanned freight vehicles on Primorye-2, to work out on the platform such services as a "smart digital checkpoint ", Technology of automated transshipment, multimodal transportation," smart port "and" smart logistics center ". The successful experience of creating "digital corridors" Primorye-1 and Primorye-2 can later be extended to other routes.  

Another promising area of ​​digitalization is international trade with its critical link in the form of delivery infrastructure, in which postal services play a leading role. Nikolai Podguzov, General Director of the Post of Russia, spoke about the digitalization of his department, which delivers 200 million packages from China per year. The share of online trading in the total volume of Russian trade does not yet exceed 3,5%, the Ministry of Industry and Trade plans to bring it to 20%. To this end, Pochta Rossii launches construction of 38 logistics centers in 34 cities, which will ensure delivery of shipments within 1-2 days for 80% of the population, investment in this project amounts to 24 billion rubles. One of these complexes, worth 3 billion rubles. and an area of ​​17 thousand square meters. m, will be in 2020 year launched in Khabarovsk, which will send to the region up to 15 million parcels.

The logistics complex, according to Mr. Podguzov, is not only a sorting zone, but also a place for storage where it is possible to complete orders upon purchase. Trade center will be the tenants of the center. Pochta Rossii also develops express channels, which reduces the delivery time for small packages from China from 2-3 weeks to one week, and in the long term 1,5-2 years to 3 days.

Mr. Podguzov's colleague, Vice President of the China Post Group, Mr. Li Xiong, said that his department was engaged in Internet delivery from 2001, and in 2017, 1,2 processed billions of packages. China Post has more than 60 logistics centers working with foreign operators, there is a special warehouse center for Russia. Mr. Li Xiong estimated the opportunities of trade with us as remarkable: trade volumes are growing, in 2017 more than 100 million parcels were sent to the Russian Federation. Russia is becoming an increasingly important partner, so the Chinese partners are ready to invest in the development of cross-border trade infrastructure. Currently, air delivery of goods from Hangzhou to Siberia is being carried out, and a line to Moscow is planned. Neighboring Far East Chinese postal workers intend to serve through the railway.

Ilya Kretov, general director of eBay in Russia and emerging markets in Europe, in turn, assessed the Russian e-commerce market as very promising: so far, e-retail in Russia is only 2,5-3% of the total retail volume. As for international online trading, Russia, with a turnover of this segment of $ 18 billion, occupies less than 1% of the global market. Mr. Kretov sees growth prospects, in addition to imports, in the development of exports: today, retail exports are about $ 400 million, and this volume, in his opinion, can be increased 25 times. Small business is a prospective user of e-commerce. Now in Russia only 0,3-04% of small businesses are engaged in export, in Eastern Europe - 2%, in Western - 7%. When Russia reaches the European level, the volume of the export market will already be $ 10 billion, for this eBay started exporting cities in Russian regions. So far, according to Mr. Kretov, residents of the regions an masse are not ready for export: they do not know English, do not understand what market places are, and do not know the culture of customer service. There are also problems in the field of state regulation: the issue of VAT refunds for retail exports, the procedure for temporary export of goods to temporary storage warehouses abroad has not been resolved.

Director of the China International Center for E-Commerce Mr. Zhu Xiaoliang drew the audience's attention to the opportunities offered by B2C e-commerce for small and medium-sized businesses in border regions. Elena Kuznetsova, partner at McKinsey & Company, outlined the goal of achieving 20% ​​in e-commerce by 2025 and pointed to a small share of exports - today, outgoing traffic of Russian e-commerce is 1% of incoming traffic. The Chinese side has done a great job of providing convenient trading platforms and service packages, made efforts by both the state and the provincial authorities - for example, compensating enterprises for connecting to platforms. At the same time, there are no such players in Russia that would provide services to small enterprises in the regions.

Vera Podguzova (Russian Export Center) recalled the task of growing non-energy non-commodity exports by 2024, and listed four areas of REC's work on the development of e-commerce: training exporters, streamlining the regulatory framework, creating an integrated export infrastructure and reducing the cost of exporting e-commerce through logistics, marketing and payment processing. Speaking at the section on Russian-Chinese communications, Deputy Chairman of the Government of Udmurtia Mikhail Khomich, in turn, recommended the REC as an effective tool for penetrating the Chinese market of exporters, to whom it is just necessary to bring it (REC) to the opportunity.

Russia's trade representative in China, Sergei Inyushin, recalled that China accounts for half of global e-commerce (1 trillion dollars). The turnover of Russia with 13 billion dollars is less in 100, and the export turnover is less in 100 times. In order to qualify for a place in export, Russian producers should actively develop themselves through e-commerce; there are no other ways anymore. The problem of the development of Russian exports, according to Mr. Inyushin, is not in choosing a site or in marketing - China has already invented excellent tools to promote products that Russian exporters can use - but in the presence of export production.

At the end of the review, it should be noted that food production is one of the few competitive industries in Russia that can increase non-oil and non-energy exports to China. At the same time, the Chinese market is protected by numerous non-tariff barriers - about which representatives of the very small business, which is ordered to increase exports to China 25 times, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to ask questions to Chinese officials.

The story is known that the Chinese began to let the Russian ice cream into their trading networks only after the Russian president personally brought a batch of ice cream as a gift to the Chinese leader. Since this way of penetrating the PRC market cannot be scaled, coastal exporters gathered at the Upgrade lab mentioned at the beginning of the text came to the conclusion that e-commerce tools should be used for export and agreed to create a local digital marketing platform without waiting for the appearance in Vladivostok REC training programs.
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