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The Far East remains the raw material periphery of the country

The Far East remains the raw material periphery of the country

Rostislav Turovsky

Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor of HSE, Scientific Editor East Russia

Rostislav Turovsky, Vice-President of the Center for Political Technologies:

- The current model assumes external economic management of the Far East. It is based on a complex bureaucratic structure in the government and the presidential administration. It is adjoined by state corporations dominating in the territory and a number of private FIGs. There was an actual curtailment of the powers of the regional authorities, which can only hope for the success of federal projects and "be friends" with FIG. Filling regional budgets also turned out to be a secondary task, since all new projects are based on the provision of tax incentives. But if we talk about privileges, it is indicative that in the Far East the regime of special economic zones, which allow the development of territories, is little used (although during the adoption of the law on special economic zones, the then Minister of Economic Development G. Gref spoke about the priority of creating a SEZ in Siberia and in the Far East). There were many proposals for the creation of SEZs on the territory of entire subjects of the Federation (by analogy with the Kaliningrad region), there were local projects. As a result, not a single SEZ in the Far East can be called effective. Business is trying to get benefits for specific deposits, and not for the development of territories, and this is happening successfully.

Such a model is beneficial to federal subjects and is in their interests. But its major drawback is the local nature of the projects. New deposits do not necessarily give impetus to the development of regions and municipalities, do not always mean an increase in tax payments and the creation of a large number of jobs. The state's investments in transport and energy infrastructure through FTP are often associated with the same projects (it is typical that new editions of the Far Eastern FTP have increased transportation costs, whereas previously the program was oriented towards housing and public utilities). The same APEC summit absorbed the largest part of the old FTP, being an "island" project that passed "by" residents even Vladivostok, not to mention the whole region. As a result, for the main part of the territory of the Far East and its population there is still no visible effect.

In these conditions, there is a high probability of conservation of the raw material model of the development of the Far East, which, moreover, does not guarantee growth in the long term. All key projects are related to the extraction, processing and transportation of raw materials. This in itself is not so bad. The effect for the Far East as a whole is unclear. In addition, for the "future" Far East raw materials markets are not guaranteed, and the ATR and China in particular should not be naively considered "constantly growing." There is absolutely no demand for liquefied natural gas, and Rosneft and Gazprom compete among themselves, offering projects that are not provided with either raw materials or a sales market. A major shortcoming of Russian products will be its high cost, due to which it will lose to Australian, Indonesian and other analogs.

Plus, of course, the rejection of the model 1990-ies, when Russia was counting on production sharing agreements, which would not bring her almost no benefits. Now, all the same, direct foreign investments are coming to the regions. The Sakhalin experience of regional growth, too, undoubtedly attracts. But he showed another: even, it would seem, very profitable commodity projects in the fuel and energy sector are implemented extremely slowly, it takes about 10-15 years. Now in Russia everywhere extend the deadlines for the implementation of new projects, and the same fate is clearly waiting for Far Eastern projects, the launch of which may not last for one decade, but in many cases will not happen at all. Indicative and actual failure of the mega-project of development of South Yakutia, which assumed at least some kind of complex development of the territory, but just because of this was unrealistic.

There are risks that the "raw curse" will prevent the diversification of the Far Eastern economy, but only in this way it is possible to include most of the territories and their residents in the projects. New projects in the real sector, such as the Zvezda shipyard and the Sollers automobile plant, have limited prospects. The defense industry in the person of primarily the Komsomolsk-on-Amur aviation production association has its own sales markets, but this is again a single, albeit a major event. The construction of the new spaceport Vostochny is a beautiful step, but it has almost no impact on the economy.

The desire to cope with domestic and foreign policy challenges, as well as the emergence of new resources in the state contributed to 2000-2002. the beginning of a long series of managerial and financial-economic experiments. From that time to the present, the problem begins to be different. Resources and the desire to engage the Far East from the federal center is. But there are too many managerial and near-state commercial structures fighting among themselves for influence and financial flows, and this diversity, on the one hand, allows to satisfy the interests of various groups of influence in the current regime, but, on the other hand, makes decision-making difficult. The Far East is favored by the federal center and has received a new management regime, but so far remains the raw material periphery of the country and the sum of not-so-numerous local projects. His withdrawal from the unstable state in the future depends on reducing the level of managerial contradictions and diversifying the Far Eastern economy. 


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