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Red, yellow ... green!

How to competently seek money and be able to spend it wisely

Red, yellow ... green!

The head of the Khabarovsk Territory Investment and Development Agency (AID), Vyacheslav Kushnarev, told how the translation system from the clerical adverb to the language of business communications works.

- Vyacheslav Anatolyevich, “working with investors” is a rather vague concept. What exactly are the functions and powers of the Agency for Investment and Development of the Khabarovsk Territory, which you have been heading for almost six months? Why did you need to create it in a new format?

- The answer is simple: to really work with investors, and not drown the real business in a heap of papers. The government of the Khabarovsk Territory made the decision to create an AID precisely in order to have an effective practical tool for the implementation of numerous investment projects. It requires a professional approach and daily effort. It would be irrational to shift them only to the executive authorities: they have enough of their own affairs. Although, of course, we act in close contact with all power structures of the region. The supervisory board of AIR is headed by the governor, oversees the work of the agency by the first deputy chairman of the government of the Khabarovsk Territory on investment, territorial and industrial policy. And we are responsible for practical organizational issues that allow investors to take the first step - and all subsequent ones too. For example, we play for them the role of both a consultant in economic matters, an informant about legislation, a "guide" in business and a "one-stop shop" in administrative terms. At the same time, we are not “officials” - AIR is interested in simplifying the matter as much as possible, as soon as possible from the stage of preliminary agreements of intent to move to the practical part. The effectiveness of our work is judged precisely by such indicators, and not by the "man-hours" in negotiations and in paperwork.

By the way, our schedule is also very tight: our specialists hold 4-5 business meetings and consultations with investors and representatives of government agencies a day. Now the Agency is supporting 9 investment projects, 12 more - at the stage of information and consulting developments. The total declared volume of investments for today is about 17 billion rubles. The regional budget has a chance to receive 2018 billion rubles from such projects by 1,7, according to our calculations. More than 1800 new jobs are expected to be created.

- What, if in short, step-by-step algorithm for your work with investors?

- Do you know the old truth "every piece of paper needs legs"? That is, one idea is not enough, and even the availability of funds for its implementation. You always need to go to the authorities, approvals, permits ... So we become these "legs" for the investor. He came - and then we, as the notorious "thirty thousand one couriers", take care of all organizational issues. The investor receives information about possible sites for his project, about measures of state support for its implementation, about the availability of the necessary infrastructure in a specific place, etc. We send and process requests to the authorities ourselves, in addition, a database is created about investment sites in our region. Naturally, it will soon be made publicly available on the investment portal of the Khabarovsk Territory in the form of an interactive map. So far, 26 sites have been created, but work in this direction continues.

So far, the investor is "bogged down in papers" at the first stage, when it is necessary to send inquiries to individual departments, wait a month for an answer, then clarify something for another month, and so on ad infinitum. Add to this other difficulties - and it becomes clear how much a knowledgeable, efficient, I would say, persistent and meticulous mediator in our person is needed in such projects.

We, of course, are not idealists and we well understand that officials do not like to rush. We have an adequate answer - our own system for monitoring the passage of documents through the departmental "sieve". A kind of traffic light: as long as all deadlines are met, a green signal is displayed on the monitor. Stalled - yellow. If suddenly (which we really would not want) the red lights up, it means that it is time to take action, using all our possibilities of interaction with the authorities. Now we are developing a document that will oblige all structures of the regional government to interact in the field of investment projects in order to minimize red tape and "duplicate functions". All investment applications submitted through the AIR are proposed to be considered on a priority basis and within a short time frame. This is especially important now, when the situation in the economy is not the best, sanctions from Western countries force us to interact more actively with Eastern and Asian partners, and in general “time will not wait” if we want to achieve something both domestically and in competition in world markets.

- It is for these purposes in the Far East that the creation of territories for advanced development is started. How will your Agency?

- Why "will be"? It is already involved, and very active. We have already managed to attract one foreign and seven Russian investors in the territory of priority social and economic development (TASED). Agreements have been signed with three industrial parks - Dalenergomash, Avangard, RPF Group, on the basis of which these projects are planned to be implemented and promoted.

- In late December, a delegation of the Khabarovsk Territory, together with Vice-Premier Yury Trutnev, visited the investment forum in Korea, and then went to China. How do you evaluate the results of the trip?

- I will answer with a proverb: money loves silence. And big money means deep silence. Today I cannot divulge preliminary agreements and name those companies with which the meetings were held. Let me just say that the trip to Korea and China was extremely effective. Negotiations on specific projects were held in both Seoul and Beijing, and soon we are waiting for the arrival of representatives of these companies to jointly inspect and evaluate the proposed sites, their infrastructure, etc. In any case, I can conclude unequivocally: despite the economic turbulence, Asian business has a desire to cooperate with Russia. During the visit of Deputy Prime Minister Trutnev, an agreement on cooperation and a plan of joint work with KITA (Korea International Trade Association, Korean International Trade Association) was signed. As part of this agreement, already in March, our agency will accept their employee for an internship with us at the Agency, and we will send our employee for an internship in South Korea for a more detailed study of all the features of the presentation of our investment projects to Korean investors and vice versa.

- And what do investors in conversations with you call the main problems, how to make their lives and work in Russia easier for them?

- Most foreign partners with experience in investment activities in the Russian Federation complain about the lack or lack of information they need. Note: not bureaucracy, crime or conflicting laws or high tariffs! This has become less, and investors are not shy people. They are quite ready to play by the rules, but first they want to know these rules. However, they usually have very vague ideas about our legislation, tax practice, preferences provided by the regions and the Center, about the nuances of accounting ... Even if they manage to find this information, the language barrier hinders adequate understanding (try to understand right away what speech in any departmental circular). Even Russian-speaking users find it difficult to work with documents and legal Internet portals, and a foreign investor always needs the help of translators, lawyers, technical and economic specialists.

- What prevents to bring them to work?

- There is one problem that complicates communication between Russian and foreign business. We have to admit that even the knowledge of English among our middle and even top managers leaves much to be desired, not to mention Chinese, Japanese or Korean. Our foreign colleagues have mastered English, but we are still "downspeak".

Arguments that “the West and the East will never understand each other” seem to me to be empty excuses. Of course, each country has its own peculiarities of doing business. But in general, our partners work in the system of well-known world standards in terms of reporting forms, business plans, financial models, etc. But we stubbornly do not want to learn a common language. Quite often, ordinary illiteracy becomes a stumbling block: Russian entrepreneurs who turn to us with wishes to find foreign partners do not understand the need to at least competently compose and translate their business proposals into a foreign language, make a high-quality presentation, prepare all the documents ... Elementary misunderstanding friend friend - and lost profit in the end!

During consultations, we have to explain many things literally "on the fingers". And I see a problem of the next level here - the lack of quality specialists with regional studies, who know well the realities of both Russia and our neighbors, on the labor market. Such professionals are trained in the Far Eastern universities. But the best graduates find work abroad or with foreign partners who show great interest in them. In domestic companies, they are practically not in demand and, as a result, they find work in other areas, not in their specialty. In the current situation, when we are talking about intensifying work with partners from the APR countries, such personnel problems should be given priority attention. As well as many others related to the peculiarities of joint business, the specifics of the region, etc.

- "Pay attention" - how?

- Try to establish a system of professional development of our business. This primarily concerns exporters working in the foreign market and entrepreneurs interested in implementing joint investment projects on Russian territory. You have to understand that not every enterprise can afford to support translators and regional experts, or pay for business trips. Therefore, there is no need to talk about the activation of joint projects at the level of small and medium-sized businesses.

Consequently, someone should take it upon himself to establish communication between Russian business, in particular, the Far East, with our partners from the Asia-Pacific region. How to do it technically? The world (including Asian countries) has relevant experience - a communication system through development institutions that unite business representatives, exporters, financial consulting companies and serve as a kind of "investment intermediaries" all the way from primary, secondary negotiations to legal examination of acts completing the work.

- On the Russian side, do you take on the role of such an intermediary in the Khabarovsk Territory?

- We provide assistance to representatives of our business interested in finding partners, in attracting financial resources of foreign investors. AID conducts this work jointly with development institutes of neighboring countries, we have concluded appropriate agreements with them. Among them, for example, KITA (Korea International Trade Association), KOTRA (Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, Korea Trade Development Agency), a number of consulting and law firms in Korea. In Japan, we have established contacts with JETRO (Japan International Cooperation Agency), ROTOBO (The Japan Association for Trade with Russia & NIS, Japan Association for Trade with Russia and Newly Independent States), we are also in close contact with Russian trade missions abroad.

It is very important to be at the right time and in the right place with your proposals. To this end, the Agency monitors the investment programs of major players in Asia, studies their reporting, plans for working with Russia and the general direction of the strategy. This allows us to work proactively and present our projects to potential investors - well-designed, well-translated, in a beautiful “package”.

Our portal has been translated into English. In addition, on behalf of the governor, the translation of the Internet resource into Korean, and then - Japanese and Chinese should be done in the near future. This is a huge amount of work. But on the other hand, its result makes the process of communication with partners much easier, opens up new communication channels.

- You are trying to create a kind of "visiting card" of the Khabarovsk Territory for a foreign investor, its "exhibition stand". What do you put there first of all?

- At various presentation sites, a lot was said about the geographic location of the region - it is actually unique, about the prospects for the development of a cargo hub - I mean the Khabarovsk airport, BAM, Transsib and ports in the north of the region - Sovetskaya Gavan and Vanino. You can tell foreigners about mineral reserves. About mechanical engineering. There is a lot of information, we can provide information on almost any request. But it is not the quantity that is much more important, but the quality of such information. Not a general "data array" (any schoolchild can find them on the Internet), but what is called "investment marketing". In simple terms, we have something to sell, but we do not know how to do it. We don’t know how to interest an investor, how to “pack separately” the information that he needs. It is these bottlenecks that our agency is now trying to overcome within the framework of the investment marketing strategy of the Khabarovsk Territory, which involves working with the target audience of each specific project.

It is important to understand the channels through which it should be promoted. Recognized specialists in the sphere of investment marketing put their participation in fairs, exhibitions and congresses far from being the first in terms of efficiency.

- You are talking about moving towards the investor. But after all, he can have his own preferences and interests. To what extent do you take them into account?

- I agree that the interests of the investor cannot be ignored. However, according to experience, our businessmen often make plans based only on their wishes. But foreign partners always have their own approach to the selection of promising projects, a methodology for calculating their effectiveness, etc. Strongly influences the decision of investors and the situation on the domestic market of their country. This has to be borne in mind - and in this case the advice of our country experts and economists can be very useful, if not priceless.

What are foreigners interested in in Russia now? First of all (this is understandable) - hydrocarbons, mineral raw materials. On the other hand, we have the desire and need to promote our highly processed products on the market. Our task is to find points of contact between these two poles - the need of partners for raw materials and our desire for technological development.

The best way to "synchronize watches" is to ask the partners themselves. Therefore, we conduct a constant investment audit of existing projects - in fact, crash tests, and we do it jointly. By the way, this greatly contributes to the improvement of the professional level of our specialists.

We do not hide the fact that it is always useful to study. The common work allows you to select the most viable and realistic ideas. It is already bearing fruit: there are several serious agreements on the participation of foreigners in large-scale projects in the region.

- What exactly, if not a secret? And will not these protocols of intentions collapse under the pressure of another wave of crisis?

- I will not tell you specific details - it is a commercial secret. But I can say for sure: the current situation in Russia does not scare our partners. They are highly professional people who understand all the nuances of the ongoing processes. They see that the current situation needs to be used wisely. We will do this too. I take this as a "signal" to continue the work and do it as thoroughly, in detail and in detail as possible, to work out new projects. And, of course, learn from the example of our partners - to move on.

Information: The autonomous non-profit organization "Agency for Investment and Development of the Khabarovsk Territory" was established on December 11, 2013. The main tasks of the AID are to improve the investment climate in the Khabarovsk Territory, to provide support to the subjects of investment activity, to contribute to the socio-economic development of the region, and to develop its export potential. Recently, the agency has also set itself the goal and is actively engaged in interaction with foreign and Russian development institutions, promoting the brand of the Khabarovsk Territory, contributing to the creation of project teams for the delivery of investment projects on a turnkey basis, and working with investors on a “one-stop” basis.

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