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Customs does not give kindness to Dobruflot
One of the largest fishery companies in the Far East may not wait for the saving for her residence in the TOP of Big Stone
The head of the company Dobroflot, Alexander Efremov, shared with the EastRussia correspondent about the urgent - about how the activity of the control and supervisory bodies calls into question the survival of the largest fishery company.
- Alexander Vladimirovich, how is the year for Dobroflot going?
- The year is quite contradictory. On the one hand, there are serious achievements. We have a successful project, to which we attach great importance, in which we have invested for five years. We went to fishing for ivashi - and became the first after a 25-year hiatus in the industry for this biological resource. We consider this an unconditional victory for the company, and for the fishing industry of the Far East as a whole. For five years, scientific forecasts and calculations were prepared, which substantiated the possibility of resuming the catch of this massive resource, estimated in millions of tons and allowing to fill the Russian market with cheap, tasty and healthy fish products. It is important that this project was supported at all levels by the Federal Agency for Fishery, the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, and personally by Plenipotentiary Envoy Yuri Trutnev, and the regional administration.
- And how did “Dobroflot” prepare for fishing for sardine Iwasi?
- Three years ago, directly under the fishery we bought the largest Vsevolod Sibirtsev floating warehouse in the world today. Two years ago, we started preparing fishing vessels, equipping them, and tailoring industrial equipment specifically for this type of fishing. A year ago, we went on trial fishing: we worked in the World Ocean in cooperation with foreign fishermen.
- And this year?
- We caught about 5 thousand tons, of which 3 thousand tons of ivashi and 2 thousand tons of mackerel, this is an accompanying object in the fishing area. We supplied the half-forgotten but well-known Iwashi herring to the Russian market, and the amount caught quickly sold out. This is a truly positive milestone in the development of the company and the industry.
- Why do you say that "the year passes contradictory"?
“This often happens in our country, when the positive aspects are“ balanced ”by problems and obstacles. It's scary to say, but we are really accustomed to the fact that almost any development encounters administrative and bureaucratic barriers and restrictions. Simply because any new activity, a new development system is knocked out of the standard template and the standard thinking scheme of officials who are in control functions. And which today, unfortunately, almost completely crushed any development in the country, and in particular in the Far East.
- How was this manifested in relation to "Dobroflot"?
- We have repeatedly said that in relation to us, as a large coastal fish processing enterprise, there are more than 78 different types of control, which we are completely forced to administer in order to meet the formal requirements that the state imposes on us. I am sure that not a single fishing or processing company in the world is simply unable to process such a list of requirements. We have inventoried this list of types of control, showed it at all levels, evaluated it and sent it out to all instances, asking specialists to evaluate them in terms of expediency and efficiency, as well as their significance in terms of the load on the economic activity of production. More than two years have passed since then. No result yet ...
Our company is focused primarily on creating a product with high added value. Our business is not built on natural resource rent, but on the deep processing of raw materials. Obstacles from the supervisory authorities were previously, there were fines, and administrative procedures. However, now, in essence, in response to our investments and attempts to develop the company in new directions, we have been put on the brink of survival.
- Do you mean the story of the "mask show" at your floating base? When was Dobroflot accused of smuggling?
- Yes it is. We have been in this "production process" for 8 months already, when in response to entering the World Ocean, developing new facilities and effective international cooperation, we received a precedent for criminal prosecution of unidentified employees of our company in a smuggling case.
- Why did you need a “mask show”?
- Then the authorities suspected that on the shipyard there were operations on repackaging and refueling of finished foreign products, and not the production of finished products from raw materials. In the course of the special operation this fact was not confirmed, but, on the contrary, it was established that raw materials are accepted, processed and packaged. During the operation, there were no violations detected, and it could not be detected - every production process in Russia is deeply documented, and each lot of products supplied to us by partners was reflected in the magazines.
- What is the essence of the present claims of the control and supervisory bodies?
- On Russian ship under the Russian flag with the Russian crew, on the certified Russian production on domestic technologies and industry standards, the products of deep processing are being prepared, packed in Russian containers with Russian signs and stencils. So, from the point of view of customs authorities, in particular the Far Eastern Customs Administration, such products can not be delivered to the Russian coast due to the fact that the origin of these products is not defined. All listed characteristics and evidence of the Russian origin of this production of understanding in the customs authorities have not been found, and for today we have to sue, while the production itself is banned from importation into Russia.
This is a stalemate: we cannot export our products anywhere, since they will not be perceived anywhere in the world except Russian. And most likely, by the end of all the proceedings (and we have a feeling that the processes are being artificially delayed), these products will no longer be usable and will go to the landfill. Fish products released by Russian fishermen in the World Ocean will go to the landfill - this is the sad result of the development of the control and supervisory system performed by the Customs authorities.
- Do you have claims from customs because you took raw materials from foreigners?
- The logic of customs officials is simple: since there is at least some share of a foreign presence in the products that move across the border (and in our case, the fish was caught by foreign vessels within the framework of agreements on providing our processing floating base with working volumes of raw materials), then it must the duty must be paid. But there is legislation, including international legislation, ratified by Russia, which spelled out the terms of what is meant by industrial fishing, which includes an inextricable set of activities for the search, catch, transshipment and processing (processing) of catches and what is meant by products from water catches biological resources. Even in the customs legislation there are norms that determine the sufficiency of processing, which allows one or another product to be considered Russian or foreign in origin. And for our specific example, there is a special exception, there is the term “catch of aquatic biological resources that are caught in the open part of the World Ocean and in the exclusive economic zone.” According to the legislation, these resources are a product that is caught in the sea as a result of an inextricable set of activities and technological processes for the search, catching, transshipment, processing and packaging of products, which is called "industrial fishing." That is, it is a continuous complex of interconnected activities that is not divided into separate separate actions for any of these processes, and as a result of which a new product - products from FBG catches.It was in order to simplify the registration of this type of product and not complicate the procedure for its registration by analogy with foreign goods, the Government already 5 years ago adopted Resolution No. 184, which made elimination and simplified clearance procedures in the port so that Russian fish products are at least partially supplied to the domestic market. Five years have passed ...
Once again: the characteristics by which the country of origin is determined are reflected in the legislation, both in Russian and international: there is a principle of sufficiency of processing, there are requirements for the principles of visual, documentary and laboratory control of product examination. And from the point of view of the law it is this question that is paramount, and the everyday amateur perception of "who caught that and the origin", taken today by the officials from the customs, to put it mildly, is far from reality.
- And what is the duty on the import of foreign fishing raw materials?
- The duty will be zero very soon - thanks to the instructions of Yuri Trutnev, this issue is resolved soon enough. But the problem is not just the toll. The issue of the origin of products, which is raised by the customs, is, first of all, the issue of the safety of our food products. Only a manufacturing company that operates in the legal framework of its state can be responsible for the quality and safety of products. And if the authorities of their country refuse to originate for all characteristics of Russian products, if they are not recognized as Russian, then these products cannot be imported anywhere - in any country in the world, having seen products with such objective characteristics, they will recognize them as Russian and require a Russian certificate of origin. That is, all the activities of Russian vessels, which are carried out in the World Ocean to organize fishing in this promising area, in these conditions has no right to exist. If this issue is not resolved in the near future, it will lead to the fact that Russia will lose its rights to quotas, in accordance with the signed and ratified International Convention "On the Conservation and Management of Fish Resources in the High Seas of the North Pacific Ocean."
- Does Rosrybolovstvo support you? The economic block of government?
- Our situation is known at all levels, including this issue was also raised at the level of the presidential control department within the framework of the Federal Agency for Fishery's report on the problems that exist in the industry. We appealed to all government agencies, our position on the issue is shared by the presidential envoy to the Far Eastern Federal District Yuri Trutnev. We were supported by Rosrybolovstvo, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Public Chamber of Russia, the Rosselkhoznadzor, all of this has written confirmation. Our topic was sounded at two government meetings, but concrete decisions that would untangle the knot are still far away. We have so far the first positive judgment in our favor. The Arbitration Court of First Instance supported our position, recognizing the arguments of the customs officers as unfounded. But we still have a long process of legal proceedings in this field. It is significant that against this background, criminal cases against the company continue to be investigated. And hence - already a direct impact on our business: in connection with the initiated criminal cases, the situation with lending has sharply aggravated, and this year we were forced to reduce onshore production in order to at least somehow stay afloat, not to bankrupt the company.
We were forced to cut over 600 people. Such are the direct and concrete results of the work we are getting.
- Customs was present at these meetings, of which you are speaking?
- Today the mood of the control bodies is such that support from all the above departments does not mean anything. And now all the rhetoric of the customs goes into the plane of theoretical reasoning on the nuances of interpretations and enforcement of customs legislation. Nobody delves into the essence of the issue, and what this will lead to, and does not think about the consequences.
- What you say obviously contradicts the adopted trend for the development of the Far East.
- The contradictions I am talking about are not visible to the naked eye. The sentiments are very clearly felt: the efforts of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East, the office of the plenipotentiary representative of the president, the participation of the President of Russia in the Eastern Economic Forum, activity in the implementation of projects of the TOP and the Free Port. But behind the scenes there is literally a parallel reality - it is the control and supervisory law enforcement system, which is outside the economic process. This is a completely different system of coordinates, different frameworks, other vectors of activity, and by and large it is a different state, which proceeds from a different logic of understanding the current state goals and interests. This system is incapable of objectively assessing certain economic phenomena that will arise in connection with development initiatives. Just recently, the Customs authorities transferred all control at the checkpoints at the state border within the Free Port. Let's imagine how, taking into account the current situation in our case, the Customs authorities will interpret and enforce all the innovations? And this, along with a host of other still unresolved issues in the framework of the implementation of the tasks set by the President for the development of the Far East. And this can in no way serve to accelerate the launch of mechanisms and the effective operation of the economy in the regimes of the ASEZ and the Free Port. Today it is a systemic anchor, on the contrary, inhibiting these processes.
- The TOP regime, promoted by the Ministry of Economic Development, offers residents protection in courts represented by the Management Company - the Corporation for the Development of the Far East, controlled by the Government. This is one of the advantages of the regime. Have you not applied for such an option?
- We have applied for participation in the Bolshoi Kamen ASEZ. This application will most likely be accepted in the near future. The parts of the territory that we have announced have already been included in the TOP by the government agreement. But now the situation in the company is such that we would simply survive and keep production, and we still have the largest onshore production in Russia. At the peak, we process up to 40 thousand tons of products per year. Nobody in Russia provides such volumes of onshore processing. We are proud of this. And onshore production means fishing villages with thousands of year-round permanent jobs, it is social infrastructure ... We were placed in such conditions that we are forced to downsize. And, unfortunately, there will be no more positive stories in the near future. Although…
- And if you look more broadly at the state policy? Here, there is news on the regulation in the fishery industry. Amendments to the law were adopted, at the stage of adopting new regulatory documents, much was said about the benefits of the Far East from the application of the principle of "quotas in exchange for investments." Do you understand what exactly changes in the Law on Fishing give you as a business?
- In August, I described in detail my vision of the situation in my Article published on the portalFishnews. As far as I understand, the new documents of Rosrybolovstva laid only the principle of stimulating those areas of the industry that the state regards as priority. This, above all, the development of coastal production of aquatic biological resources and the renewal of the fleet. For this purpose, a part of the quotas is allocated, they are called investment, they should stimulate the activity of economic entities. In the law, only the general outline of this idea is fixed, and the mechanisms of execution and the principles of distribution will be fixed in separate government decrees. In my opinion - a rather controversial approach - from the very details it depends a lot whether the mechanism will work, or not. In favor of the industry or to her detriment.
Look, everyone views the mechanism as an investment one, but in fact it also contains a limiting factor: 20% of quotas are taken from the enterprises operating today. Another controversial aspect is which areas will be recognized as priorities and who will be able to apply for these quotas. One of the existing projects provides for “targeting” investment quotas only for pollock and herring. Moreover, with strict regulation of investment projects that can be implemented under these quotas - by types of vessels, by fish processing methods, up to the output of products. In my opinion, the assumption looks very bold that by transferring production only to pollock fillets, we somehow stimulate the development of the fishing industry. The current year has already shown that a 30% increase in pollock fillet production led to a decrease in its cost by almost 50%. And these are already huge market risks. If so, then this is some kind of one-sided development.
- And what's the catch with the types of ships?
- In the draft of by-laws, which are published and submitted for discussion, investment quotas formally apply to large-capacity fleet, and medium- and low-tonnage vessels. However, the catch is that only unprivileged objects are allocated to the medium and low-tonnage fleet, which even now can be unrestrictedly caught on the declarative principle. But even in spite of free access to these quotas, they are not completely chosen today.
At the same time, the most attractive quotas, which, obviously, are an incentive for investment quotas - these are pollock, cod and herring - will be provided only for large-tonnage fleets. In my opinion, such an approach is a distortion of the logic laid down in the law, and the actual non-fulfillment of the instructions of the President to expand the list of investment projects at the expense of a medium-tonnage and low-tonnage fleet.
There is one more “hitch” - “to pack” into the medium tonnage (up to 55 meters) ship the production of pollock fillets and a fishing plant (which is a direct requirement that the regulator is trying to impute to investors) is a task almost impossible to solve, it is meaningless and expensive. To do this, it is necessary to reduce the capacity of the holds and residential premises, and such a vessel will be either unsuitable or unprofitable in operation. And in general - why oblige to put the production line on a medium-tonnage vessel, if its main function is to supply the coastal processing with raw materials?
It was said that one of the tasks of the investment-quotas is to develop coastal processing. But here is a clear contradiction.
- What do you think, what can be the advantage of a medium-tonnage fleet in front of a large-tonnage fleet?
- Today this type of vessels is the only one possible for construction in the shipyards of the Far East. And if the law sets a goal to really load our shipyards with orders, we need to take this into account and make the appropriate amendments, make investments in the medium tonnage fleet investment attractive, and not impose restrictions and set unrealistic requirements.
A large-tonnage complex vessel worth $ 80 million can be built by two or three shipyards in Russia, which are already overloaded with orders from the military and oil workers. But it is quite possible to build medium-tonnage raw materials (without processing requirements on board) and small-tonnage vessels in the Far East! Back in Soviet times, this type of ship was built in Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, Khabarovsk and Blagoveshchensk.
- And in terms of operation? More ship - more return, is not it?
- Not quite - medium and low-tonnage fishing vessels around the world are the basis for providing raw materials for coastal processing, the same situation was in the USSR. Moreover, thanks to modern technologies (for example, in terms of keeping catches in "liquid ice" for up to 5-7 days), the fishing area of the medium-sized fleet has significantly increased. The structure of the fleet of the most advanced fishing countries in the world shows growth in terms of medium-tonnage vessels. This is an objective trend.
All the more strange is the lack of attention on the part of the developers of the new rules of the game to the expected start of the massive harvest of the same ivashi. Our country, by and large, is very lucky - a huge biomass of mackerel and ivasi herring is again approaching our shores, but there is nothing to catch them. Large-capacity vessels are not suitable and are occupied by the same pollock, and the Resolution does not provide for stimulation of the construction of medium-capacity vessels in fact. Who will stimulate the production workers involved in this mining facility? But no investments in this direction are expected.
- Alexander Vladimirovich, and yet - the team "Dobroflot" behind the story, had to face the most serious problems. Your forecast for the industry in the Far East?
- There is such an expression: knowledge increases sorrow. And today we know so much about the state of the system that optimism goes away. And if our rather big private enterprise “nightmares” in this way, then I can imagine what could be going on and what difficulties medium and small private businesses face. And in general, I understand that if our company does not become - and this can happen Considering the current situation, probably no one will even pay attention to this, except for our employees.
And how else - any activity of the business, any initiative, supported both verbally and in writing - in fact simply stumbles upon a powerful acid medium barriers Obstacles and bureaucracy, which burns all undertakings.
The administrative bodies, the investigation, the prosecutor's office, the bodies of inquiry ... as they told me: be pleased that you are not yet in a stone bag, but at large. Well, what remains to be done? I'm happy that I'm at liberty ...