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Institutes for the development of the Far East: first steps and results - 2015

The outgoing 2015 year played a special role in the social and economic development of the Far East. This year, new development institutes were established, initiated by the federal center and with the participation of regional authorities and business

It is assumed that the successful work of these institutions will help to improve the financial and investment situation in the Far East, which, although not quite rightly, is usually called one of the "problem" areas of the country.

Institutes for the development of the Far East: first steps and results - 2015

Rostislav Turovsky

Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor of HSE, Scientific Editor East Russia
First, since March 30, the federal law on advanced social and economic development territories (TOR) entered into force, which is an advanced version of special economic zones (SEZ) that already exist in no small number on Russian territory. Torahs offer the most significant tax benefits in comparison with all other “special” territories in Russia, reduced rental rates, simplified administrative barriers, a free customs zone, and expanded opportunities for attracting foreign labor. The state assumes obligations for the construction of infrastructure facilities for PDA. However, judging by the latest decisions on the creation of TOR, the center increasingly prefers to support projects in which the budget component will be minimized.

After the entry into force of the law, the process of official approval of the PDA began, for which preparation was carried out in advance. Last year, the Ministry for the Development of the Far East led consultations and identified the most promising projects of the TOP. As a result, in the first two waves, nine PDAs were approved, located in six of the nine DFO regions. In the "central" regions - the Primorsky and Khabarovsk Territories, as well as in the Amur Region, two TOPs were established, one each - in Yakutia, in Kamchatka and Chukotka. The specially created Corporation for the Development of the Far East became involved in the development and management of TOR. Anchor residents have been identified in all the TOR, work is underway to expand the list of participants.

The expansion of the number and geography of TOR is envisaged: a draft of TOR in the Jewish Autonomous Region is being prepared for approval, and two projects on Sakhalin have been previously supported. The process of creating TOR was supported in a recent presidential address, when V. Putin spoke in favor of developing Komsomolsk-on-Amur, as one of the industrial centers of the Far East: here one of the first TOR is involved, connected with the interests of aviation industry. In the end, ABD is likely to be created in all regions of the FEFD.
The initiative of the presidential level can also be called the following decision of the federal authorities - the creation of the Free Port of Vladivostok, the first Russian project known from international experience, as a port-franco. This idea was expressed in last year's presidential address. The relevant law came into force on October 1. The free port occupies all southern municipalities of Primorsky Krai and is a unique phenomenon, being not a seaport alone, but a territory with several seaports, an airport, border crossings on the border with China, i.e. Free port in Russian is a powerful multimodal infrastructure complex. Working conditions for residents of the Free Port are similar to TOPs, but they also provide additional opportunities. In particular, the opportunity for a simplified entry of foreigners with the issuance of an eight-day visa at the border became unique for Russia.

Thus, the Free Port is maximally focused on stimulating tourism, business trips and, in general, solving the task of integrating Russia into the APR. The Primorye Territory remains the key region to solve this problem. At the same time, a special emphasis is placed on transit shipments of Chinese cargoes, due to which the new port of Zarubino should grow, which is likely to become one of the main elements of the Free Port.

As in the case of TOR, the idea of ​​a free port quickly developed. While Vladivostok is seen as a pilot project, there is already a discussion of a more general draft law “On the Free Port of the Far East”, designed to extend a similar practice to ports in other Far Eastern regions. As a result, free ports may appear in the Khabarovsk Territory, on Sakhalin and Kamchatka. At the same time, an attempt is being made in Kamchatka to bring the port of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to a qualitatively new level, turning it into the eastern hub of the Northern Sea Route, to which the federal authorities are now paying great attention.

Of course, it’s still very early to talk about the results of the work of the development institutions. Due to the energetic efforts of Deputy Prime Minister Yury Trutnev and the Ministry for the Development of the Far East, led by A. Galushka, the necessary legislative and organizational infrastructure has been created. But there are also limitations - a territory remote from the centers, a complex general economic and international situation, a lack of budgetary funds, and coordination of procedural issues with other departments, especially in terms of the border and customs regime. As a result, with all the attractiveness of the working conditions of the Free Port, only one resident is registered in it - with a hotel construction project. The work of TOR also begins rather slowly, although there are first positive examples, such as the opening of the Evroplast plant in the Nadezhdinskaya Tor.

The volume of declared investments in TORs is impressive and amounts to hundreds of billions of rubles. But there is also a risk if the TORs are simply a new way of obtaining benefits from the largest commodity companies, for example, for the gas processing and gas chemical complex in the Amur Region. Such projects can indeed provide large amounts of investment. But then the TORs will not contribute to the development of new branches of the economy, the introduction of innovations, i.e. Will not become genuine poles of growth, which is implied in world practice for such special economic regimes. The innovative component in the TOPs is still weakly expressed.

In addition, there remains moderate interest on the part of foreign investors: in fact the projects turned out to be oriented towards local and capital business. To solve the complex and urgent task of international integration, the East Economic Forum was held for the first time in September, which will become an annual event. But he did not give and could hardly give any immediate results in the form of concrete large projects for the Far East.

It should be remembered about the experience of special economic zones, which in Russian practice turned out to be ambiguous. In the Far East, there is an example of the SEZ in the Magadan region, which was created by a special federal law at the end 1990-x And its validity was recently extended to 2025. But it is impossible to say that it radically changed the regional economy. There are two examples of the SEZ in the Khabarovsk Territory (the port of Sovetskaya Gavan) and Primorsky Krai (Russky Island), which actually did not take place, without interest of potential residents. The new SEZ in Vladivostok, connected with the creation of an automobile cluster, has really started to work, but its prospects are questionable, as demand for cars is falling. With a long delay, but this year still began the operation of another unique object - a gambling zone in Primorsky Krai, where the first casino started working.

While we can talk about the successful passage of the "zero cycle" by the institutions of the development of the Far East. Taking into account the previous experience, there are risks that the number of institutions being created will not go to an equally impressive quality. The international significance of new projects is under question. But I think that the new development institutions are able to solve the minimum task - to significantly improve the investment climate of the Far East, at least for Russian business. The national rating of the investment climate of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI), issued this year, had disappointing results: none of the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District was included in the first and second regions. The most favorable for the business group, and at best was among the middle peasants. Now it turns out that the TORs compensate for the shortcomings of the regional authorities that did not create a favorable investment climate in their territories, and are islands with more attractive business conditions. However, nothing prevents the regions from making their own efforts and thinking about improving the quality of their investment policies.

In the current geopolitical conditions, it is the Far East that has the best prospects to become a platform for further experiments to improve the business climate and develop international cooperation. Given the joint and concerted actions of the federal and regional authorities, as well as the successful cooperation of government and business, the task of increasing the investment attractiveness of the Far East can indeed be resolved. The points of growth in the Far East have been created, but much work remains to be done so that the decisions made by the state will justify itself.
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