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Areas of advanced development: better less, but better?

Disputes between ministries about the specifics of the special economic regime in the TOP are generally completed

Areas of advanced development: better less, but better?
Special project TORA and Free Port

At present, the coordination of the draft law on the areas of advanced development (TOR), which are intended to become one of the main instruments for the accelerated socio-economic development of the Far East, is being finalized in government circles.

In the fall, the bill will be considered by the State Duma (which does not exclude, incidentally, its adjustments), and immediately after its adoption, probably from the beginning of 2015, the creation of TOP will begin in the Far East. One of the interesting features of the current process is a very fast mode of preparation and consideration of initiatives to create those or other TOP. There is still no law, but Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Trutnev and Minister Alexander Galushka are already actively working on the selection of promising sites, seeking to retain the initiative in this process. This means that by the time the law enters into force in the Far East, there will already be a number of preliminarily adopted decisions on the beginning of the work of certain TOPs.

Given the centralized decision-making process for the establishment of a PDA, it can be expected that the current preliminary projects will quickly gain official status. In this regard, it is important and interesting to consider those 14 pre-selected sites that the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East considers the most suitable for the implementation of the PDA, in respect of which many consultations have already been carried out with the participation of regional authorities and interested businesses. At the same time, it should be noted right away that many TOPs are not created from scratch, that is, the greenfield principle characteristic of similar projects in international practice is not used or is used partially (when projects and work already exist, but due to the TOP, related and interrelated projects). In a number of cases, an already operating production or an already developed investment project is placed under the "umbrella" of the TOP. However, with this approach, the launch of the first sites will be easier, and it will be possible to report success more quickly, which, of course, is necessary for the authors of this initiative.

Recall in this regard that some of the TOR are created actually on the spot failures projects of special economic zones. By the way, this in itself inspires skepticism about TOR, since the SEZ institute similar to them in the Far East "did not go." But one way or another, the federal authorities are planning to create a TOR on the island of Russkiy, where the tourist-recreational type SEZ has not been launched, and in Sovetskaya Gavan, where the port SEZ was created on paper. At the same time, we recall, in the Primorsky Territory, a new SEZ has already been created, but only of industrial production type and for a specific project of the automotive-manufacturing cluster.

Since there is no adopted law and official list of TOR, the examples that are called in the public space are of a purely preliminary nature. In particular, they talked about 38 of potential TOR, but at the official level their list is not voiced. There is a more accurate list of promising sites from 14, which are analyzed in this article.

The geography of the alleged TOP clearly indicates the high influence and lobbying efforts of the two main regions of the Far East - Primorsky and Khabarovsk Territories. Moreover, it is the Primorsky Territory that takes the first positions, where as many as five TOP are planned. The Khabarovsk Territory with three projects lags behind, but nevertheless, these two regions taken together account for more than half of the priority TOP. This approach does not fully ensure the implementation of the principle of uniform and balanced development of the regions of the Far East. So, on the other hand, the most remote and sparsely populated region - Chukotka - was not included in the list of priority TOPs, nor, as far as is known, in the list of 38 TOPs, generally remaining outside the scope of the site selection process. Sakhalin and Magadan oblasts are not included in the list of priority sites. On the contrary, Yakutia and the Amur Region are well represented - two projects in each region. One project has been announced from Kamchatka and the Jewish Autonomous Region. However, the absence of the Magadan region can be explained by the fact that a special economic zone is operating and will be reformed in this region throughout its entire territory, and therefore the TOP there can be considered redundant.

In the future, perhaps the law on the TOR will allow for a more extensive geography (for this is the Ministry of Economic Development). Although Minvostokrazvitiya insists on the implementation of its original idea and the creation of TOPs precisely as a specific tool for the Far East, that is, its subordinate territory. Therefore, we can not even talk about the promotion of the TOR project to the territory of the Baikal region covered by the same state program of social and economic development as the Far East (to the Trans-Baikal Territory, where there were talks about possible TOR, Buryatia and the Irkutsk region).

Since the TOPs must by definition provide for advanced development, it is necessary to analyze which regions of the Far East this need and whether their list coincides with the list of priority sites.

Unfortunately, Rosstat publishes summary data only for the results of 2012, but their analysis can also be useful. In general, it shows that the Primorsky Krai really needs measures to ensure faster and more sustainable development, experiencing a decline in GRP and obvious problems with the dynamics of investment. On the other hand, the Magadan region, in which there are no priority sites, demonstrates good economic development rates and can probably cope without TOP, given the presence there of a special economic zone.

At the same time, the lack of priority sites on Sakhalin does not correspond to the real needs of the region in accelerating economic development. The region shows a decline in all indicators, temporarily depleting those development opportunities that came with oil and gas projects. Although depriving Sakhalin of the TOP, federal authorities can proceed from the assumption that the region will receive a new impetus for development through new oil and gas projects, given, for example, the recent launch of the Arkutun-Dagi oil field and plans to expand liquefied natural gas production.

Perhaps, based on current trends in socio-economic development, the representation of the Khabarovsk Territory is somewhat overstated. In this region, as in Primorye, there are problems with investments, but GRP and production indicators look good. On the contrary, in the measures to ensure advanced development, the Amur region is experiencing more needs, experiencing a decline in GRP, investment and industrial production.

If we talk about the specialization of TOP, then obviously not all regions need industrial specialization, whereas many TOPs are oriented specifically towards industry. For example, industry fell only on Sakhalin, but there just is no TOP. In general, the Far East needs multifunctional, not only industrial TOPs, and for many sites this need is realized by the authorities. With regard to agro-industrial TOP, it is justifiable to create sites in the Jewish Autonomous Region and the Amur Region, which experienced the greatest problems with the decline in agricultural production, but in Primorye there was a good growth, and the agro-industrial TOP is also envisaged there.

Thus, the list of priority sites could be made more balanced, based on regional needs for advancing development. For example, one could reduce one TOR in the Primorsky and Khabarovsk Territories and add them to the Amur Region and Sakhalin. But the interests and influence of the key regions of the Far East are still a priority. In this case, the dominance of the Primorsky Krai can be explained both by its real needs, which clearly result from unfavorable statistics, and the privileged political status that this region has acquired.

Political reasons have a considerable influence on the process of creating TOP. First of all, the influence of the head of the Primorsky Territory Vladimir Miklushevsky is striking. As is known, to this region Minvostokrazvitiya has a special interest, redistributing its hardware resources in its favor at the expense of Khabarovsk, where the head office of the ministry was previously located. In fact, in the Far East, it is Vladivostok that is the center of Minvostokrazvitiya activity. This situation is beneficial to Vladimir Miklushevsky and for the reason that he is running for governor in September, and demonstrating lobbying success to him is extremely important. The fact that one of the TOPs is created on the site of the Far Eastern Federal University, whose rector he worked before, also testifies to the influence of Miklushevsky.

The influence of political factors can be traced in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, where TOP is also among the top priorities. There, in September, the election of the mayor is coming, and the new head of the city should be Andrei Klimov, who comes from the aircraft factory (deputy director) and is called to change the outgoing mayor Vladimir Mikhalev to the regional meeting. The creation of TOR in the city is closely related to the interests of the aviation industry (see below).

At the same time, the alliance of federal government structures and FIGs plays the main role in the process of creating TOP. This is not surprising, considering that the process of creating TOP is centralized, and the regions, as well as local businesses can only participate in discussions, but do not have a decisive vote. In full accordance with the Russian realities, the interests of the leading state corporations playing an important role in the macroregion or gradually developing the Far East came to the forefront.

One of the main interested players was Rosneft, which achieved inclusion of the oil refining and petrochemical complex in the Primorsky Territory, in the Nakhodka area (Partizansky district) among the priority sites of its project. As you know, the project of the Eastern Petrochemical Company caused a controversial reaction in the government, which pointed to the lack of elaboration of many financial and economic details of the project. However, Rosneft emerges from the situation in a typical way for it, seeking maximum state benefits, and in this case making a bet on the TOP regime.

The second large industrial project may be named industrial cluster in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, where the main interested party was the Russian state monopoly - United Aircraft Corporation and its controlled company Sukhoi. The branch of the latter is Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aviation Plant, a key enterprise of the real sector in the Far East. The second interested state corporation was the United Shipbuilding Corporation, which owns the Amur Shipyard. But in the speeches of officials, in particular Yuri Trutnev, it was stressed that the TOP will be focused primarily on the aviation plant, and then on the shipbuilding plant. Within the framework of the TOR, it is intended to produce aviation components.

It is also possible to connect to the projects of Gazprom's TOR (together with SIBUR) if the Belogorsk site in the Amur Region is used for the benefit of the future gas processing plant. But before the construction of this plant, several years will pass (for which the "Siberia Power" pipeline will be built), and while this site will probably be used for other purposes.

In addition, it is possible to detect the interest of “Rosnano” - a company that participates in the development and production of composite materials in Yakutia (the project “Basalt - new technologies”, which has already been up and running before the history of TOR). As for the interests of ALROSA, until they are manifested. The fact is that the second project of TOR in Yakutia, Severny Mir, is focused on cutting production, which the new government curator of the company, Yury Trutnev, is actively promoting. But the management of ALROSA does not yet support this strategy, which is partly due to the current power struggle in the company, during which its leader, Fyodor Andreyev, was in limbo. But in any case, the residents of the future TOP will buy from ALROSA raw materials for cutting, as they are doing now. Participation in the TOR projects of leading state-owned banks and funds, such as Vnesheconombank and the Russian Direct Investment Fund, is also expected. Already we can talk about their interest in the same project "Basalt - new technologies" in Yakutia.

Notable, but not so pronounced is the interest of the large private business close to the authorities. So, one of the main potential beneficiaries of the TOP is the group "Sum" Ziyavudin Magomedov, firmly entrenched in the Far East in recent years and enjoys great influence in the federal government. As a result, its port Zarubino in the Primorsky Territory was included in the number of priority projects. Indirectly on the interests of the "Summa" group, the project of the Nadezhdinsky logistics complex in the area of ​​Vladivostok and the city of Artem can also work, where the main interested player is the regional business (Inkom DV, Mikhail Robkanov, former head and co-owner of the Vladivostok Commercial Sea Port, transferred to the group "Amount"). This project involves, inter alia, transshipment of containers that will be transported from port container terminals or, conversely, into them. From these transportations the container terminal in the same Vladivostok can win, and also the expanding terminal Zarubino.

Among the potentially interested federal players is the Rusagro group, which is created by Federation Council member Vadim Moshkovich, involved in many projects implemented by the authorities. This group can deal with the Mikhailovsky TOR in Primorsky Krai, where it is planned to create an animal breeding complex.

An interest in the TOP group of Roman Abramovich, who is considered co-owner of the RFP Group, one of the leading timber companies of the Far East (along with the Russian-Chinese investment fund that bought about 42% of the shares of this group) is also possible. This company owns a port terminal in Sovetskaya Gavan, which can be used in the TOR project "Vanino-Soviet-Gavan". However, other large FIGs interested in exporting their products through port terminals in the area of ​​Vanino and Sovetskaya Gavan can also take advantage of this TOP.

As for regional business, it has less lobbying potential to promote its own TOP projects. Nevertheless, we have already noted that one of the key projects is implemented by Mikhail Robkanov, one of the largest businessmen in Primorsky Krai. The interest of Yakut diamond cutting companies (Yakutia Diamond Company and others) is also evident. There are interests of the regional agrarian business, which can deal with projects in the Amur Region, the Jewish Autonomous Region, the Khabarovsk Territory. The interest of business represented in the port facilities and shipbuilding and ship-repair enterprises of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is possible. But if the Kamchatka project is successfully developed, it is very likely that its exit to a fundamentally new level will lead to a change in the owners of the companies operating there, their purchase by federal FIGs.

The specialization of TOR has a diverse nature, and in some cases, individual TOR themselves can become multi-functional. Nevertheless, the most promising projects are related to industry and infrastructure, which is not surprising and reflects the real prospects of the Far East. In industry, as was to be expected, it was not without fuel and energy complex, and the VNHK project could become one of the most capital-intensive ones. Another key area is engineering, and here in the foreground is the project in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Actually, these two projects have the greatest prospects in terms of the impact on industrial production in their regions and in the Far East as a whole.

Less large, but also interesting are the industrial projects of Yakutia. One is associated with diamond cutting, the other with the production of basalt fiber and the other relatively innovative (with the amendment that their technologies were developed many years ago) of building materials.

On the other hand, there is a striking lack of major projects in the framework of TOPs in such an important direction for the Far East as wood processing. The projects related to the extraction and enrichment of coal and metal ores are also not being given attention, but such projects look too "raw", and the TORs are still more focused on processing.

Another important area of ​​activity for future TOR is the transport infrastructure. Four TOR ports are directly connected with it: the ports of Zarubino, Sovetskaya Gavan, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, and the Nadezhdinsky complex.

The TOR project on Russky Island, which can be considered an attempt to create a new science city on the basis of the Far Eastern Federal University, is a very special one. But here it is impossible to say exactly what the innovative nature of this TOP will consist of. Earlier, we recall, the project of the tourist and recreational SEZ did not take place on the same territory.

Attention is drawn to the large number of TOR focused on the agro-industrial complex. These include the only TOR in the Jewish Autonomous Region - Smidovichsky, as well as the TOR in the Amur Region (Yekaterinoslavka) and Primorsky Krai (Mikhailovsky). It is also possible agro-industrial specialization TOR "Rakitnoe" near Khabarovsk, where there are no specific proposals about the specialization of this site.

It is striking and the intention of the initiators of the TOP to use these sites to attract tourists. Particularly clearly the recreational component is represented in the TOP in Yakutia ("Northern World") and on the Russian Island in Primorye. But the prospects so far look dubious. As you know, the Institute of SEZ tourist-and-recreational type in Russia, few took place. The Far East can be interesting for tourists primarily with its natural beauties, but for this it is necessary to create a TOP, but better still SEZ in its reserved places. For example, the combination of diamond cutting and tourism in the TOP under Yakutsk looks interesting, but still Yakutsk is not Tel Aviv, and it is unlikely that it will attract a huge mass of tourists who want to see local attractions and on occasion buy diamonds from the manufacturer. The Russian Island could actually take place as a science city, whereas from the point of view of tourism there is nothing particularly unique there, and the new Hong Kong can not be built there.

In general, the number of priority TOPs looks adequate and justified, but their geographic position and specialization are not yet fully worked out, with the correct nature of the main vector. First, as we have already noted, the localization of the TOP does not fully correspond to the tasks of balanced development of the Far East: some regions, with influential authorities and FIGs, are represented very well, while others clearly fall out of the process.

Secondly, the rate on the development of various branches of the economy of the Far East by means of TOP is also correct. But in the process of implementing projects, it may turn out that the TOP, where large industrial and logistic projects are being implemented, will "survive", while others will not work and will be closed. Therefore, each TOR needs anchor investors, and well-developed business plans. Otherwise, they can wait for the fate of the SEZ, and the Far East has already passed.

Thirdly, the dependence of projects on the federal center is great, while the development of local business of the TOP does not yet stimulate, and its independent efforts are not calculated at all (the latter again destroyed many SEZs). In some cases, the state still needs to create expensive infrastructure. A special combination of ambition and vulnerability is the design of the port complex in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (where its capacity is supposed to increase from the current 1,2 million tons per year to 20 million tons). The idea of ​​"completing" the Northern Sea Route in the Far East and creating a powerful logistic hub in Kamchatka is certainly beautiful. But while the Northern Sea Route actually breaks off in Dudinka, where Norilsk Nickel transports its cargo, and from the economic point of view, it is understandable: further to the east, it is largely unnecessary and very expensive to carry cargoes to the east. Of course, against the backdrop of the state's stake on the development of the Arctic and the Northern Sea Route, it is possible to launch the project in Kamchatka without much difficulty, but over time its economy will go into too obvious a contradiction with politics.

Fourthly, it is not yet clear what the export orientation of the projects will be, whether they will attract the interest of foreign investors, whether they will be involved in international relations of the country. After all, this is the rate at the level of declarations. The abandonment of raw materials and mining projects is correct in itself, but there is no clear alternative to them. So far, we can say that there is an export potential for VNKhK, but this is practically a raw material project, and there is a tekovo project. Export of a part of machine-building production from Komsomolsk-on-Amur is possible, which is interesting for China. Logistics projects are also by definition involved in international relations. But most projects have a local character and are designed for local sales of products, not responding to ambitious political tasks. This applies to agro-industrial projects, and to the production of building materials, no matter how innovative they are. It is clear that the TOP will not be a massive influx of foreign tourists, and tourism will be very limited and internal.

Under these conditions, even with a limited number of priority TORs, the quantity may not be fully consistent with their quality. Many ABDs still need more precise (and not necessarily the only) specialization in anchor investors, including foreign ones, which must be attracted. On the other hand, the time remaining for the entry into force of the law makes it possible to turn this “raw” list of projects into a more powerful and promising one. 

More details about the territories of advanced development: sites of TORs, investment projects, opinions - on the special page

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