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"Dashing 90-e ended in the Far East more recently"

President of TECHNONICOL Sergey Kolesnikov on the conduct of export business in Russia

In 2017, the Far East became the leader in terms of attracted investments: their volume in the fixed capital of the district enterprises amounted to 1,2 trillion rubles, an increase of 117,1% in relation to 2016. The average growth in Russia was 104,4%. In Minvostokrazvitiya believe that more than half of the increase in investment provided residents of the territories of advanced development (TOP) and the free port of Vladivostok. Two plants in TOR "Khabarovsk" (investments - about 600 million rubles) are being built by the Russian company TECHNONICOL, the manufacturer of building materials. The president of the company, Sergey Kolesnikov, spoke about the problems of Russian non-primary exports and assessed the very mechanism of TOP.

"Dashing 90-e ended in the Far East more recently"
Photo: Vladimir Smirnov / VEF-2017 TASS Bank
Special project TORA and Free Port
- You work across the country, not only in the Far East. What generally happens in the construction industry?
- The market is stable, but its growth rates are not very high, from zero to 5% per year. More growth demonstrates the production of insulation materials due to the fact that the policy of energy efficiency, announced by the state, begins to work, new capital structures require heaters. But the market for roofing materials is stagnating.
We do not expect serious growth in the future. We are benefiting from exports, this year we plan to increase export deliveries by 20%.
There is a task set by the Russian president: to increase the volume of non-primary exports to $ 250 billion a year, export of services to $ 100 billion. And who is responsible for this? Business thinks that the government and ministers are responsible for this. Representatives of federal executive bodies think that the business is responsible for this. Business honestly said that with so many regulators, demands, forces on the actual work is not enough. Risks from scratch, unjustified demands make exports extremely risky, often unprofitable. In particular, the issue of currency control is discussed at each meeting, and to be honest, I'm not sure that we will solve this problem even in 2020.
- The problem is not new, why it is not solved?
- When exporting materials of mass consumption, whether building materials or engineering products, rarely will a buyer pay you an advance payment. That is, you must, at your own peril and risk, deliver the product to a client in another country. You get a receivable, which the client must pay in some reasonable time. So, if there is an overdue accounts receivable, and we did not receive the money on time, then, according to the currency control rules, you should pay a fine of 75 to 100% on the amount of unreceived proceeds. These are draconian rules.
Moreover, there is a criminal article. It provides for up to five years in prison. On what to me somehow the employee of the Ministry of Finance has told: "Name the list planted". I replied: "I do not know the list of planted people, I just know that they can put him in for this, and it would be nice to think about it." He retorted: "For now the list of the planted will not be, we will consider that you are wrong." It is difficult to argue with this. If we want to develop exports, then currency control should be abolished. But while we are not heard. 
By the way, this law was born even in the Soviet Union. "The task of exchange control to ensure the country and the stability of the ruble", then it was declared as follows. I assure you that the non-raw exporters are not affected by the stability of the ruble, and if they do, it is extremely insignificant.
- You have production in Western Europe, there is in the Far East. What is developing more successfully?
- The European Union is 480 million people, much more than the Russian Federation. And the effective demand there is higher. We plan to strengthen our positions both in Russia and in the EU. The plans are to increase production capacity in Germany, Italy and Scotland. We are trying to be a local producer in the EU.
- And you are really perceived as local producers?
- No. Products "Technonikol" clearly associated with Russia and in Scandinavia, and in Eastern Europe, and in Poland. We broke the trend, we began to be treated with respect, but we had, believe me, with great difficulty prove that Russia can produce quality affordable products. Even the Chinese are more trusted. Russophobia? Probably.
Unfortunately, no one writes about this. We are not enemies of society, as other media say about business. They write that the FAS and other supervisory bodies "protect the public interest." When we argue and say that your bills are draconian and the business is going to decline, we are strongly opposed. And I always ask: who is society? In my opinion, if excessive regulation gets in the way of business, it also gets in the way of society. But in the interpretation of journalists, the opposite is true: business versus society. I disagree! We do not attack society, we develop it. I take it all painfully. It is very important for me that business is perceived positively in society. But so far, citizens' trust in the authorities is much higher than in businessmen. No matter how much you prove that we are also members of society, that we are an active society, we create real products, we pay taxes, young people do not hear us.
Opponents, good speakers, call us "violators of the laws", "monopolists". These cliches to us stuck with 90-ies. But we have not done anything for a long time already, that in the 90-ies we were doing business, we have long paid taxes even more than necessary. Every year, the tax inspection reports an increase in the collection rate of 20%, despite the fact that the economy is not growing. Where does this growth come from? Improved administration. Now everything is collected, and even a little more than necessary, the so-called "fines from above." So let the journalists protect us from the authorities. And, when I read this article, I will rejoice that society has finally come to understand that business is an active part of society that requires public support. We are the same servants of the people as you are, we also go under the laws, like you, we are also limited in resources. The state does not give me a penny, only picks it up. What can I do?
I remember in Belarus one meeting of the labor collective and shareholders. I was accused of stopping the production of leather cardboard. The shop manager sneered at me that I had fired 120 people, stopped the car. He promised himself to organize production for $ 20 million and get a profit of $ 1 million. I said: “Vasily Petrovich, you performed so well that I felt like a complete devil. Do you have a car, is it in working order? " - "Yes". - "Are there any raw materials?" - "There is". - "Do you have 120 people?" - "There is". - “I personally sell this car to you for 1 dollar. And you will earn this money, a million dollars, and feed people. " - “What am I? - he immediately said. - What am I? " I say: “I am a member of society, I came from Russia, just like you. It's just that I have neither experience, like you, nor money for this production. " And then the man was blown away. Do you understand? Production, business - these are risks that someone specific should take on. And if I did not take them upon myself, it does not mean that I am good or bad. This machine is still standing, it does not work, and people were actually fired.
- What products of your Khabarovsk enterprise are in demand in Russia, and what do you export?
- Our goal is to export 20% of products manufactured in Khabarovsk. But, to be honest, while we barely get 5%. It turns out that we sell 95% in the Far East, from Sakhalin and Kamchatka to Yakutsk and Irkutsk. The distribution area is very large due to the fact that the population of the Far East is only 6 million people. Objectively speaking, the market is small. It is clear that such a metropolis as Moscow consumes much more than the entire Far East.
We are looking for happiness, including deliveries of our products to Canada, we have already begun deliveries to China. Despite the fact that the border with China is huge, there are few road freight transitions, and their carrying capacity is low. As soon as the spring-summer season comes, China buys a huge amount of wood, and wood begins to cross the border on cars, cork is formed. The second problem is that we do not have a single transport corridor from the Far East deep into China. All cars, having passed the border, must reload the products in Chinese trucks. This time, unnecessary expenses, and, of course, spoilage of production. There should be an intergovernmental agreement on transport corridors. We have such agreements with the European Union. Therefore, European cars cross the border, go to Russian suppliers, receive products and are transported, as they say, from the gate to the gate. With China, we have six agreements, and all of them with Altai, with Eastern Siberia, and with the Far East there is not one.
Our managers are in very difficult conditions. Relatively speaking, here is the race. The Chinese are running light. And you carry rifles, skis, you have extra 20 kg of combat equipment. It is clear that you will not escape far, and a Chinese, even an old man, will overtake you. Russian businessmen have too much to pull. We have duties in China higher than in the European Union, 12-15% on top need to pay. The Chinese building materials market is saturated, there is no shortage in the Chinese market for any type of goods, especially in consumer goods. They protect their market. We have to reduce the price of 12% to pay Chinese fees. Therefore, take our actions as heroic.
- Nevertheless, you are building two factories in the Far East, you are a resident in the TOP.
- We are now building two polystyrene waste processing plants, we will be doing secondary polystyrene and drainage systems for industrial and civil sewerage. This will be pipes, gutters, transition elements made of plastic and PVC. We will not export them due to the fact that it is light products, it takes a lot of space, it costs little. We will sell it in the Yakutsk-Chita-Vladivostok area. Only on stone wool we set the goal to increase exports to 20%. Stone wool is a more technological product, and we hope that we will be able to find a consumer in South Korea, Japan and Vietnam. But deliveries to India, taking into account transportation tariffs are doubtful. The tariff "Khabarovsk - Far East - Mumbai" is 2-3 times more expensive than the tariff from Vyborg to Mumbai. Therefore, we will deliver to India from the western part of Russia. Specifically, according to the figures: from Vyborg to India the container costs 1,3-1,8 thousand dollars, from the Far East - 2,5-2,8 thousand dollars, so it's still necessary to bring Khabarovsk to Vladivostok, this is plus 500-800 euro per container. The delivery dates are comparable, but the tariffs are such that while it is easier for us to transport to India from Vyborg.
- Do you like TOP mode?
- This is a very successful tool for attracting investment. If not for him, then there would be no reason for our arrival in the region at all. The TOP mode significantly reduces the payback period and makes the commercial project attractive.
There are problems with communications, with infrastructure, there are problems with the regime, there are still many problems, and Yury Petrovich Trutnev (presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District - RBC DV) admits this and sincerely tries to solve them. And he decides: the control bodies have become less picky, the situation with transport corridors is improving. But all this is slow.
- That is for you the presence of the TOP regime was decisive?
- Let's just say, if there were no TOP, we would not have built these two plants in Khabarovsk. 90-ies in the Far East ended recently, with the advent of Yuri Trutnev and with the creation of the Ministry for the Development of the Far East. 2014-2015 years for me - a turning point. If it were not for these regimes, nothing would have happened, no projects, no investors' interest, nothing.
- What is the situation with the personnel compared to central Russia?
- It was difficult, it became easier. We did a lot of work, our enterprise became heard, we became a good employer, so it became easier. In general, it is easier to find class specialists in the central part of Russia than in Khabarovsk. We solved this problem for ourselves due to the fact that we have a good experience in solving it. For any other new company, this will be a problem. My advice is to look on the ground. You need to trust more people on the ground, give more authority.
- You have an eco park near Ryazan. Are there plans to open something like this, for example, in Kamchatka?
- Yes, I stayed there three times. I love this land. Really the richest nature, you meet bears every day. But the farther from Moscow, the more difficult it is with communication, there is even some cultural misunderstanding. Subculture in the Far East is different from Moscow. In the Far East, one day someone will build the same eco-park. When there are examples of private investment that will be widely known. There are a lot of projects in the Far East, but very few commercially successful ones. Enthusiasts, there is investment, but it's all a hobby rather than a business. We need positive examples of private investments that benefit the society, the budget, the investor. And the more such examples, the more will be the investment.
- Why do you spend so much time working with FAS?
- It is my choice. The history of every person who works in "Business Russia" or in other public structures is a personal story. You were treated unfairly, you burned yourself, began to study the topic, and realized that the world had gone mad. Resentment. And you turn it into action.
We really believe that many of the initiatives of the authorities are superfluous and even lead to tragedies. Okay, I did without tragedy, paid a fine, but for many others. We try to improve the life of entrepreneurship, we try to argue and prove. I managed to cancel the 2014 tightening of the article of the Criminal Code in December 178, although it is being tightened now. Well, three years of respite, too bad.
- Explain, what is this article?
- FAS wants to tighten the legislation and introduce criminal punishment for small, medium, any business, not even for the very fact of violation of competition, but only for trying. And this will be a tough article. I'm afraid it will be a very complicated article. I do my best so that the article in this form does not pass. It establishes not just monetary fines, it actually deprives people of freedom, honor, dignity. That is, in 90% it is loss of business, in half of cases, loss of family. This is a terrible violence that the FAS wants to do, and for very far-fetched reasons. I stress: on very far-fetched grounds. Due to the manipulation of public consciousness, many are convinced that cartels were allegedly in Russia. They were not. Can you imagine that 90 sewing factories (this is a real, sensational business) created a cartel? 90 factories from Sakhalin to Kaliningrad? Can you believe it?
- Proof of this were?
- Evidence crumbled in court, the court took the side of entrepreneurs. Usually, when a court acquits an entrepreneur, they do not write about it, and when they blame the business, they write about it. Why, when it is necessary to write bad about business, all about it write with such fanfares? And when the court takes the side of the entrepreneur - water in the mouth. In the heads of ministers and employees of the presidential administration, there remains the conviction that entrepreneurs are dishonest people. They do not listen to us at all.
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