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West of the Far East

How Trans-Baikal develops and plans to develop, EastRussia understood

EastRussia continues to publish in the genre of "The strategy of the development of the region: what was planned to do and what came of it." This time, the focus was on a new acquisition of the FEFD - the Zabaykalsky Territory, along with Buryatia, recently transferred from Siberia to the Far East, apparently in order to stimulate a depressed local economy with Far Eastern support measures. EastRussia understands what is happening in one of the new subjects of the FEFD and under what conditions the “Far Eastern” support can help him.

West of the Far East


In terms of geography, resources and economic structure, the Zabaikalsky Territory, formed in 2008 by the merger of the Chita Region and the Agin-Buryat Autonomous Region, is a completely Far Eastern region: it has a military district and checkpoints on the border with China and Mongolia, low population density (2,6 people / sq. km), large reserves of forest and minerals, underdeveloped transport and energy infrastructure, as well as a cold climate. The region’s chip is uranium deposits in Eastern Transbaikalia (Krasnokamensk), where PJSC PIMCU named after E.P. Slavsky "(part of the structure of" Rosatom ").

The economy is based on coal deposits (Kharanorskoye, Tunguyskoye, Vostochnoye, Apsatskoye), as well as a number of non-ferrous and ferrous metals: the famous Udokanskoe (copper), Berezovskoye (iron ore), Bystrinskoe (gold, copper, iron) and a number of gold-bearing placers, as well as a significant forest fund. In terms of transport, the region has two railways at once - Transsib and BAM, as well as the most busy border checkpoint in the district, the Zabaikalsk-Manchuria.

Despite the available resources, Transbaikalia takes the last places in the ratings for a number of parameters: quality of life (83 place in 2018 year), socio-economic situation (65 place), and others. The decline in living standards causes depopulation: from 1990 to 2018, the population in the region decreased by almost 300 thousand people, the negative population growth persists.

The budget of the subject is subsidized: according to the regional Ministry of Finance, out of the consolidated budget revenues planned for 2018 for the year, 83,37 billion rubles, 42,7 billion are own tax revenues, a little more than 2 billion are non-tax, and 40,6 billion (that is, almost half) "Gratuitous receipts from the budgets of the Russian Federation". The quality of state administration in the previous period can be judged by evaluating the effectiveness of the implementation of state programs for 2016: only one of the state programs was completely completed, the degree of implementation of the rest varies from 28% to 90%.


The strategy of socio-economic development of the region was adopted in 2013 year, it was based on the scenario of "balanced growth", which assumed the spread of development from the "points of growth" (core investment projects), due to their multiplicative influence, to the space of development. This transition was to be implemented through the introduction of new production technologies in the mining industry, processing and engineering, construction, agriculture and logging. The favorable prerequisites for such a scenario were as follows: a transport-geographical location advantageous for the implementation of transit in the APR, the proximity of growing China, the availability of resources, the regulatory framework, qualified personnel and the experience of interaction between government and business.

The strategy also envisaged the creation of a pool of “development institutions”, the formation of clusters, the development of transport logistics and in-depth processing of raw materials, attraction of investments in all spheres, including social, growth of foreign trade, as well as the establishment of a whole assortment of “priority development zones” with specializations in the mining, processing industry, logging, tourism and agriculture.


Development institutes have indeed been created: the Investment Development Fund, the Development Corporation, the Industry Development Fund, and the Regional Engineering Center are functioning in Transbaikalia. True, no information on the results of these institutions on the website of the regional government could be found, with the exception of the report of the FER on the issue of 15,7 million rubles. microcredit in 2017 year and 89 million support for small businesses a year earlier.

Two industrial parks, Krasnokamensky and Mogoytuysky, were also established, an ABD was established in Krasnokamensk in 2016 year (through the Ministry of Economic Development), but there is no public data on the activities of these parks. Numerous parks planned in the Strategy (agro-industrial in the Aginsky Buryat district, Priargunsky district, a joint agropark with Buryatia, a cluster of woodworking in the western regions and the Kadalinsky industrial park in Chita) remained on paper. There were no tourist clusters (Chita, Zabaykalsky), although the tourist segment is slowly growing, mainly due to domestic demand.

But a lot of events in the mining industry of the region. Coal is actively mined at the Apsatsky deposit (part of SUEK). In 2017, the Bystrinsky GOK was launched (the project operator is “Norilsk Nickel”), whose construction is estimated at $ 1,5 billion. The design capacity for processing 10 mln tons of ore per year should be completed by the end of 2019. Klyuchevskoye gold deposit, in which Chinese investors have invested. Chinese investors also produce ore and export to China from the Noyon-Tologoi polymetallic and Berezovsk iron-ore deposits. At the stage of the Berezovsky project, it was planned to build a mining plant, but there is no information about this.

It seems that he moved from the place of the long-term construction of the Udokan field: at the investment forum in Sochi, the Baikal Mining Company (part of the holding Metalloinvest) signed an agreement with the banks on financing the start of the development of the field and the construction of a mining and smelting plant. The plans for the development of the Bugdainsky (molybdenum) and Chineysky (titanium-magnetite ores) deposits, which were announced in the Strategy, have not yet been implemented.

China is the main buyer of raw materials: 2017 million tons of iron ore, 62,2 million tons of lead and 39,3 million tons of zinc concentrate, 47 million tons of hard coal and 134 million tons of brown coal from Zabaikalya to the People's Republic of China were shipped to XRUMX in China.

At the same time, the mineral extraction tax, which, it would seem, should constitute a significant share of the region’s revenues, is planned for 2018 in the amount of just RUB 1,5 in the year. (3,5% of budget revenues) - for a region in which mining is the backbone of the economy, this figure seems excessively low.


Lesprom Transbaikalia is in a depressing state. Along with the constant fires, the main problems of the industry are the buyer's monopoly market (China), the low level of technical equipment of enterprises and the depletion of economically accessible forest resources. If before the increase in duties on the export of roundwood, the Chinese systematically reduced the purchase prices for it, then after 2011, the tactics changed: now in the border areas of Siberia and the Far East there are a lot of woodworking enterprises (sawmills) created for Chinese money and selling processed timber, themselves at a lower price in relation to the prices of the domestic market. In Transbaikalia, these processors also buy illegally harvested wood at the points of reception and shipment of wood, with subsequent export to China. The recent union of importers into the union is also worrying, as the Chinese will seek to simplify the procedures for purchasing, legalizing and delivering Russian wood raw materials to their processing plants.

In the forest sector, the Strategy set for the medium term - by 2020 year - quite vague tasks, such as "creating more 1000 new jobs", "increasing the proportion of organizations implementing technological innovations in the total number of organizations of the forest complex to 50%" and " an increase in the production of competitive (high-grade) wood products by 2 times due to the creation of modernized advanced wood processing plants ”. Whether it was possible to fulfill them is unknown, since there is no information on the state of forests and the volumes of logging on the website of the regional government. According to environmentalists, the forests of Transbaikalia are degraded due to constant fires and logging, and the Amazar pulp and paper mill and the Krasnokamensk timber processing complex no longer remain for two large projects.

Indirectly, it is possible to determine the volume of forest exports according to Transbaikal Customs. Timber exports to China in 2017 amounted to 20 thousand tons of roundwood worth $ 2,1 million (for 9 months 2018 of the year - 11 thousand tons per $ 1 million), and almost half a million tons of timber worth $ 38,3 million (January-September 2018-th - 374,8 thousand tons per $ 27,1 million). Thus, forest exports to China are growing annually, although the share of roundwood in it is officially decreasing.

The strategy planned several large-scale timber processing projects - a woodworking cluster in the western districts of the region and the Amazar pulp and industrial plant in the Mogochinsky district. About the cluster of information in the network was not found, but the CPK 15 for years has been the focus of attention of the Trans-Baikal public, mainly because of the scandal of the project. According to officials and deputies, the project is a priority for the region, it will create more than 3000 jobs. To provide raw materials, large forest areas have been allocated, the investor, the Sinbahn company from Heilongjiang province, is planning to invest 41 billion rubles in the CPC, a sawmill has already been built. For the successful work of the CPC, the Chinese are ready to themselves build a bridge across the Amur River between the points of Pokrovka and Loguhe.

But environmentalists, social activists and scientists estimate the project negatively. For example, the former head of the Mogochinsky district, Dmitry Plyukhin, believes that for the declared capacity of the central industrial complex in the province there simply is not enough forest resources, and the pulp mill itself for the Chinese is not the main thing: they are primarily interested in the bridge to the strategically important area of ​​the border area, from where take out the forest. Scientists are convinced that the construction carries high environmental risks for the region, related both to the prospect of cutting down 2 million hectares of forests and to disturbing the water-ecological balance on the upper tributaries of the Amur. The same opinion is expressed by international experts who sent a letter to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, where the sale of shares of the Sinbahn company was supposed, a letter with recommendations to refrain from bidding. Thus, the investor may simply not have the funds for the completion of the CPC.


It is obvious that shifts in the regional economy were little connected with strategic plans, and the strategy itself no longer reflects the changed reality. The sluggish achievements in the development of Transbaikalia recently forced the federal center to take action: in 2018, the Government of the Russian Federation approved a development plan for the Trans-Baikal Territory before 2025, with funding of 42,7 billion rubles (federal and extrabudgetary). The plan envisages such measures as the development of tourism, transport and border infrastructure, the development of timber processing in the western regions, the creation of the Amazar Russian-Chinese industrial park, the stimulation of the influx of residents in the Krasnodar Territory Territory, the rise of agriculture, the development of the Berezovsky deposit, the construction of electrical networks and the reconstruction of Chita airport. It’s too early to judge the realism of these plans.

Thus, the new team of the acting governor Osipov’s governor-general’s management team managed to get a rather contradictory asset: on the one hand, the region has a lot of prospects and potential development directions, on the other hand, it has many problems with the realization of these prospects and maintaining the normal operation of both production and supporting infrastructure . The 2013 strategy of the year was based on a very idealistic view of the translation of the development impulse of the raw “points of growth” into the surrounding economic space; if these expectations come true, then partly with a long delay. In addition, it cannot be argued that investments in “pivotal investment projects” under existing regulatory conditions can generate a sufficient impetus for development in the form of tax deductions and employment of the population.

We can assume that the bet on resources has not been justified, primarily due to the fact that the management of the process of their use is taken out of the region: Transbaikalia is a supplier of raw materials for Chinese industry, and mining companies get a minimum of profit, which still needs to be shared with local budget. In cases where products are shipped to world markets, the beneficiaries are Russian corporations - operators with access to these markets. The exit from this classical trap of raw materials regions is usually seen either in building a full production cycle on its territory, or in diversifying the economy. In this case, the first path is unlikely, and for the second it is not enough just to establish a development corporation - a special diversification program is required. And, in any case, measures are needed to increase the tax return from mining projects.

The success of the bid for the establishment in the region of a new TOR, recently announced by the plenipotentiary Yuri Trutnev, will depend on the quality of the site design. The rich experience of the Far Eastern subjects allows to conclude about the insufficiency of the establishment of a Torah for the prosperity of the surrounding area - after the solemn opening act, many factors come into play, such as the presence / absence of infrastructure, labor and its qualifications, potential markets for products, etc. We hope that the new leadership of the region takes into account these circumstances and attaches due importance to the preparation of draft PDAs.

Above it was shown that the mere presence of seemingly favorable factors for development is not enough - at best, the strategy boils down to waiting for the arrival of an “investor” who does everything, at worst, instead of development, depression appears. Understanding the reasons for a simple SWOT analysis can no longer be done; a clear understanding of the picture of what is happening, including not only iron and concrete in the territory, but also the whole encompassing system into which the territory is inscribed — foreign markets, production chains, internal and external stakeholders, and and so on, because without an understanding of the structure of the ambient system one cannot control the comprehensive one. It is said that half a century ago, it took Peter Checkland the classic system theory theory for several years to describe the UK health care system and provide recipes for its reform. Today, management tasks have not become easier, but the accumulated tools and experience of predecessors make it possible to solve them much faster.

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