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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

Customs does not give kindness to Dobruflot
Photo: goodflot.rf
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. Our project has been crowned with success, to which we attach great importance to which we have invested over the course of five years. We went to Iwashi fishing - and were the first after the 25-year break in the industry for this bioresource. We consider this an undoubted victory for the company, and indeed 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 mass resource, estimated at 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 both the Federal Agency for Fishery and the Ministry of the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Federation, and personally by the plenipotentiary 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?
- They caught about 5 thousand tons, of which - 3 thousand tons of Ivasi and 2 thousand tons of mackerel, it is an accompanying object in the fishing area. We put on the Russian market a forgotten, but well-known herring of Ivasi - and the caught volume quickly broke up. This is indeed a positive milestone in the development of the company and the industry.

- Why do you say that "the year passes contradictory"?
“It happens so often in our country, when the positive moments are“ balanced ”by problems and obstacles. It is terrible to say, but we are really accustomed to the fact that almost any development encounters administrative and bureaucratic barriers and restrictions. Just because any new activity, a new development system, is knocked out of the standard pattern and standard thinking scheme of the officials who are in control functions. And that 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 controls that we are fully forced to administer in order to comply with the formal requirements that the state imposes on us. I am sure that not a single fishing or processing company in the world can simply recycle such a list of requirements. We hosted this list of types of control, showed at all levels, evaluated and sent to all instances, asking the experts to evaluate them in terms of feasibility and efficiency, as well as their significance in terms of the load on the economic activity of production. Since then, more than two years have passed. 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 with the "mask-show" on your mother ship? When did Dobroflot get accused of smuggling?
- Yes it is. We have already been in this “production process” for 8 months, when, in response to access to the World Ocean, development of new facilities and effective international cooperation, we received a precedent for criminal prosecution against unidentified persons 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 can not take out the products anywhere, since nowhere else in the world will Russia perceive it differently. And most likely, by the end of all proceedings (and we have a feeling that the processes are artificially prolonged), these products will no longer be usable, will go to the dump. Fishing products produced by Russian fishermen in the World Ocean will go to the dump - this is the sad result of the development of the control and supervisory system implemented by the Customs.

- Do you have claims from customs because you took raw materials from foreigners?
- The logic of officials from customs is simple: once in the product that moves across the border, there is at least some share of foreign presence (and in our case, the fish was caught by foreign vessels in the framework of contracts to provide our processing base with working volumes of raw materials), so To be paid a fee. But there is legislation, including international ones, ratified by Russia, which sets out the terms that are meant by industrial fishing, which includes an inseparable set of measures for the search, catch, reloading and processing (processing) of catches and what is meant by products from catches of water Biological resources. Even in the customs legislation there are norms in which the adequacy of processing is determined, which makes it possible to treat a particular product as Russian or foreign in origin. And for our specific example, there is a special exception, the term "catch of aquatic biological resources caught in the open part of the World Ocean and in the exclusive economic zone." According to legislation, these resources are a product that is caught in the sea as a result of an inseparable set of measures and Technological processes for the search, catching, reloading, processing and packaging of products called "industrial fishing." That is, it is a continuous set of interrelated activities that E is divided into separate separate actions for any of these processes, and as a result of which a new product is emerging - products from the catches of the FBG.This is why in order to simplify the design of this type of product and not complicate the procedure for its formalization by analogy with foreign goods, Already as 5 years ago, the Resolution No.184 was adopted which, with respect to the products of catches of the Bank, made an exception and simplified the procedures for registration in the port in order for Russian fish products to be at least partially delivered the internal 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 fee will very soon be zero - thanks to Yury Trutnev's instructions, this issue is soon resolved. But the problem is not just a duty. The question of the origin of the products, which is put by the customs, is first and foremost the issue of the safety of our food products. Only such a manufacturing company that performs its activities in the legal field of its state can be responsible for the quality and safety of products. And if the authorities of their country refuses to originate in all the characteristics of Russian products, if it is not recognized by Russia, then this product can not be imported anywhere - in any country of the world, after seeing products with such objective characteristics, they recognize it as Russian and will 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, this will lead to the fact that Russia will lose the rights to quotas, according to the signed and ratified International Convention on the Conservation and Management of Fish Resources in the High Seas of the North Pacific.

- Does Rosrybolovstvo support you? The economic block of government?
- Our situation is known at all levels, including this issue sounded at the level of the presidential control department as part of the report of the Federal Agency for Fishery on the problems that exist in the industry. We appealed to all state institutions, our presidential plenipotentiary to the Far Eastern Federal District Yury Trutnev shares our position on the issue. We were supported by the Federal Agency for Fishery, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Public Chamber of Russia, the Rosselkhoznadzor, all of which have written confirmations. Our theme was heard at two government meetings, but it’s still far from concrete solutions that would unravel the knot. We have so far the first positive judgment in our favor. The Arbitration Court of First Instance supported our position, declaring the arguments of customs officers unfounded. But we still have a long process of legal proceedings in this field. It is significant that, against this background, the company's criminal cases continue to be investigated. And from here - already a direct impact on our business: in connection with the initiated criminal cases, the situation with lending has sharply worsened, and this year we were forced to reduce coastal production in order to remain at least afloat, not 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 the support of all the departments listed does not mean anything. And now the whole rhetoric of customs goes into the plane of theoretical arguments on the subject of the nuances of interpretations and enforcement of customs legislation. The essence of the issue, and what it leads to, no one delves into and does not think about the consequences.

- What you say obviously contradicts the adopted trend for the development of the Far East.
- Contradictions, of which I speak, are not visible to the naked eye. Moods are very clearly felt: the efforts of the Minsk region, the office of the plenipotentiary representative of the president, the participation of the President of Russia in the Eastern Economic Forum, and the activity in the implementation of TOR and Freeport projects. But behind the scenes there is literally a parallel reality: it is a control and supervisory law enforcement system that is outside the economic process. This is a completely different system of coordinates, other frameworks, other vectors of activity, and by and large - another state that proceeds from another logic of understanding actual state goals and interests. This system is incapable of objectively evaluating certain economic phenomena that will arise in connection with development initiatives. Just recently, the Customs authorities were given all control at the border crossing points at the Freeport. Let's imagine how, given the current situation in our case, the Customs will treat and enforce all innovations? And this together with a lot of other issues that have not been solved so far in the framework of the implementation of the President's tasks for the development of the Far East. And this can not in any way serve to accelerate the launch of mechanisms and efficient operation of the economy in the TOR and Free Port regimes. Today it is a system anchor, on the contrary, inhibits 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 applied for participation in TOP "Big Stone". This application in the near future with a high probability will be accepted. The sites of the territory, which we stated, have already been included by the government agreement in the TOP. But now the situation in the company is such that we would just survive and save production, and we have, for now, the largest coastal production in Russia. On peaks, we process up to 40 thousand tons of products per year. Such volumes of coastal processing are not issued by anybody in Russia. We are proud of this. And coastal production is a fishing village with thousands of year-round permanent jobs, this is a social infrastructure ... We were put in such conditions that we are forced to contract. And positive stories, unfortunately, will no longer be in the near future. Although…

- And if you look more broadly on the state policy? Here, according to the regulator in the fisheries industry, news comes out. Amendments to the law were adopted, at the stage of adoption of new normative documents, much was said about the benefits of the Far East from applying the principle of "quotas in exchange for investments." Do you understand what exactly is changing the Law on Fisheries for 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 sees the mechanism as an investment, but after all, in fact, it also has a limiting factor: 20% quotas are taken from the enterprises operating today. Another controversial aspect is precisely which areas will be recognized as priorities and who will be able to qualify for these quotas. One of the existing projects provides for “targeting” investment quotas only for pollock and herring. And with strict regulation of investment projects that can be implemented under these quotas - by types of vessels, by methods of fish processing, up to the output of products. In my opinion, the assumption looks very boldly that by transferring production only to pollock fillets, we somehow stimulate the development of the fishing industry. The current year has already shown that the 30-percent increase in the production of pollock fillets led to a decrease in its value by almost 50%. And this is a huge market risk. If so, then this is some 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 complex vessel worth $ 80 million dollars can be built by two or three shipyards in Russia, which are already overloaded with orders from the military and oil industry workers. But medium-tonnage raw materials (without processing requirements on board) and light-tonnage vessels are quite possible to build in the Far East! Back in Soviet times, this type of ships was built in Nikolaevsk-on-Amur, Khabarovsk and Blagoveshchensk.

- And in terms of operation? More ship - more return, is not it?
- Not really - medium-tonnage and low-tonnage fishing vessels around the world are the basis for raw materials for coastal processing, the same situation was in the USSR. Moreover, thanks to modern technologies (for example, regarding the conservation of catches in "liquid ice" for a period of up to 5-7 days), the fishing zone of the medium-tonnage fleet has significantly increased. The structure of the fleet of the most progressive in the fishing world shows growth by medium-tonnage vessels. This is an objective trend.

Especially strange is the lack of attention on the part of the developers of the new rules of the game to the expected start of mass culling of the same Ivasi. Our country, by and large, was very fortunate - a huge biomass of mackerel and herring of Ivasi again comes to our shores, and there is nothing to catch them. Large-tonnage vessels are not suitable and are occupied by the same pollock, and the stimulation of construction of medium-tonnage in fact is not provided by the Resolution. Who will stimulate production workers engaged in this production facility? But there is no investment in this direction.

- 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 an expression: knowledge multiplies the grief. And today we know so much about the state of the system that optimism is gone. And if the “nightmare” of our rather big private enterprise in this way, then I can imagine what could be happening, and what difficulties the medium and small private business faces. And in general, I understand that if our company does not become - and this can happen Taking into account the situation of today, then probably nobody 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 ...

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