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Investment attractiveness of the Far East: the first results of the decisions made

The past year has become a turning point for the Far East due to the introduction of several mechanisms for the development of the macroregion, which aim to attract investment, economic growth and improve the level of social well-being of citizens

In particular, the mechanisms of the territories for advanced development, free ports, as well as funding programs from the "Far East Development Fund" and the allocation of government subsidies to investors for infrastructure have been earned. As the last year showed, these mechanisms are in great demand among investors, and according to preliminary results, one can speak about the success of their implementation.

Investment attractiveness of the Far East: the first results of the decisions made

Rostislav Turovsky

Doctor of Political Sciences, Professor of HSE, Scientific Editor East Russia
Areas of advanced development

On March 30, 2015, federal law No. 473-FZ "On territories of advanced socio-economic development in the Russian Federation" came into force, and during the entire subsequent period, 13 TORs were created, each of which has its own specialization. On the territory of advanced development, a special legal regime is established, which implies tax benefits, reduction of administrative barriers and other preferences. The leader in the number of priority development areas is the Primorsky Territory: the Mikhailovskaya ASEZ (livestock, crop production, food production), the Nadezhdinskaya ASEZ (light and food industries, transport and logistics) and the Bolshoi Kamen ASEZ ( shipbuilding). In many regions, there are two priority development territories. In the Khabarovsk Territory - TOP "Khabarovsk" (industry, logistics) and TOP "Komsomolsk" (industry), in the Amur region - TOP "Priamurskaya" (industry, logistics) and TOP "Belogorsk" (APK). In the Sakhalin Oblast, the Mountain Air ASEZ (tourist and recreational) and the Yuzhnaya ASEZ (agriculture, animal husbandry) operate. In the rest of the regions, one ASEZ was created - in the Kamchatka Territory ASEZ "Kamchatka" (tourist and recreational, port-industrial, agro-industrial), in the Chukotka Autonomous Region - ASEZ "Beringovskaya" (mining industry), in Yakutia - ASEZ "Kangalassy", which is industrial park, in the Jewish Autonomous Region - TOP "Amuro-Khinganskaya" (industry and logistics). There is no TOP only in the Magadan region.

At present, the creation of several more advanced development territories has been announced in various forms, including Kuriles (tourism, agriculture, fishing complex) in the Sakhalin Region, Nikolaevskaya (fish processing, ship repair industry) in the Khabarovsk Territory, Svobodnenskaya (gas chemical production) in the Amur region. On the basis of the latter, it is planned to launch the country's largest gas processing and gas chemical complex associated with the Power of Siberia gas pipeline project. The Magadan Region is also preparing its proposals - the regional authorities are promoting the idea of ​​creating a priority development area on the basis of the Omsukchan coal deposit, one of the key in the region. 

Thus, in 8 constituent entities of the Far Eastern Federal District, priority development territories began to work. If we sum up the number of specializations, then five TOP have industrial specialization, three - transport and logistics, three more - agricultural, two - tourism and recreation, two more - shipbuilding and one - mining. A large number of specializations, representing different sectors of the economy, makes it possible to interest the maximum number of investors. However, an investor can implement his project outside the framework of a specific TOP profile. The allocation of specialization is associated, first of all, with the activities of large anchor investors, as well as with the economic and geographical characteristics of the territory of advanced development, which are more conducive to one or another type of activity. As you know, a resident must invest at least 500 thousand rubles in the project, so the TOP projects have both "daughters" of large federal players with investments of several billion rubles, and small local players with investments of several million rubles. Moreover, both an already operating company and an enterprise, the creation of which is just being prepared, can become a resident.

The official statistics of the Ministry of the East of Russia speaks about 172 applications for the top total worth of investments in 514 billion rubles. With such an indicator of attracted investments, the TOR mechanism is today becoming the most investment-intensive among all the instruments for the development of the Far East.

It is important to note that the TOP mechanism, in contrast to the regime of special economic zones, which was not very successfully applied in the Far East and in Russia as a whole, involves the creation of territories of advanced development only with the collected package of applications from potential investors. Thus, within the ASEZ there will be no “empty” territories where not a single resident has registered, as happened with the SEZ. For example, the federal authorities are in no hurry to approve the tourist and recreational ASEZ "Russky Island", as it has not gathered a sufficient number of investors. Let us remind you that the Russian Island SEZ already operated there, to which the investors did not show attention, and as a result it should be closed. Therefore, with regard to the TOP, the authorities act thoughtfully and rather carefully.

In addition, business often refused to invest in Far Eastern projects due to lack of necessary infrastructure. Now the state is ready to provide appropriate support by allocating investments from the budget for the construction of necessary facilities. In addition, in the implementation of projects of the territories of priority development, regional governors play an important role, which also work to create them and actively seek investors both in Russia and abroad. In general, the mechanism of TOP is a more complex and thoughtful approach, unlike the SEZ, which helps attract investors.

Free port

The next special mechanism for the development of the Far East was the Free Port regime, which implies a number of tax benefits and customs preferences for carrying out entrepreneurial activities. The pilot territory for the project was the Free Port of Vladivostok, which included 15 municipalities in the south of Primorsky Krai. The corresponding law (No. 212-FZ "On the Free Port of Vladivostok") entered into force on October 12, 2015, and already now the interim results of the port's work have received a positive assessment from both the federal authorities and the business community. In particular, according to official statistics, as of September 1, 2106 (that is, less than a year after the launch of the project), 122 applications were received for a total amount of more than 173 billion rubles. Unlike the TOP, the Free Port does not have a clear specialization, although it was initially assumed that the free port would attract mainly residents who specialize in logistics. However, 39% of residents chose the industrial field of activity, 18% focused on logistics (where the Aviapolis Yankovsky project stands out), in third place are real estate projects (11%).

The successful example of Vladivostok contributed to the spread of this regime to other ports of the Far East. Moreover, interestingly, the new ports were simply "added" to the current law on the Free Port of Vladivostok. 

As a result, the ports of Vanino in the Khabarovsk Territory, Korsakov in the Sakhalin Region, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky in the Kamchatka Territory, and the polar Pevek in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug were granted the status of a free port, according to amendments to federal legislation, and one more territory was included in the Free Port of Vladivostok. - Lazovsky district. At the moment, new free ports are collecting applications from potential residents, and meanwhile, 15 residents intend to enter the Vanino port project with a total investment of 70 billion rubles. Thus, free ports appear in almost all coastal regions of the Far East, with the exception, again, of the Magadan Region, with its special regime, and Yakutia, which has access only to the Arctic Ocean.

State infrastructure support of investment projects

Another mechanism to attract investors is targeted infrastructure support for priority investment projects. The criterion for the selection of priority investment projects is the economic benefit from their implementation: the amount of taxes received by the budget, private investment, the value added.

In fact, this mechanism is aimed at large projects that are not included in the ASEZ or the free port, but require significant infrastructure support. At the moment, three rounds of selection of investment projects have already taken place, and 13 applications with a total volume of private investments of 292 billion rubles and budgetary investments of 34 billion rubles have received support. The state provides significant support to the mining industry, in particular to the Taiga iron ore GOK and the Inaglinsky coal mining and processing plant in Yakutia, a coal mining and coal enrichment project in the Khabarovsk Territory, and the construction of a coal transshipment complex in the same region in the port of Vanino. Financial assistance was also directed to the gold mining industry. In the Amur Region, funds are received by a project for the development of gold mining in the Selemdzhinsky District, money is also allocated to the Ozernovsky gold deposit located in Kamchatka, the Natalkinsky deposit in the Magadan Region. The diamond mining company ALROSA received a subsidy for the development of the Verkhne-Munskoye deposit. In addition, subsidies are allocated to the agro-industrial complex - the development of pig breeding and the construction of a brewery in Kamchatka.

Far East Development Fund

It is worth noting that the Far East Development Fund is also engaged in financing investment projects - it provides loans for the needs of applicants. In the winter of 2016, the interest rate on the loan was reduced from 11% to 5% per annum for up to ten years, and in order to use the financing, it is necessary to allocate at least two rubles of private funds for each ruble of the Fund. A company that has already secured its position in the business can receive financing - it is financially stable, with proven experience in implementing projects similar to the one announced. However, there are no industry restrictions - any company can apply. In turn, the Fund is ready to finance up to one third of the total funds required for the project.

Now the Fund invests in support of eight projects. A special attention is paid to the mining industry and related infrastructure. For example, the largest amount of investments (2,8 billion rubles) is aimed at building a main pipeline from the Solntsevo field to the port of Shakhtersk in the Sakhalin region, and also for the modernization of this unique specialized sea coal terminal in the region. The Fund also allocated 2,5 billion rubles for the construction of a cross-border bridge across the river. Cupid in the Jewish Autonomous Region - it is implemented in partnership with the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RFPI) and the Chinese Investment Corporation (CIC). Another major project concerns gold mining in the Kamchatka Territory, where Kamchatka Gold is developing Amethyst and Baranievskoye fields: the Fund plans to allocate up to 2 billion rubles to build the necessary transport infrastructure.

What Statistics Say

According to preliminary estimates, thanks to new mechanisms for the development of the Far East (territories of advanced development, the Free Port of Vladivostok regime, financial support from the Far East Development Fund, targeted infrastructure support for investment projects), the declared volume of the proposed investment has already amounted to 1 trillion 064 billion rubles. It is important to note that not only Russian companies are becoming investors, but also foreign ones. China is expected to be among the leaders among foreign investors, whose representatives are ready to invest about 163 billion rubles (16 billion yuan).

Nevertheless, according to statistics, the Far Eastern regions have not yet demonstrated a steady growth in investment in fixed assets. In 2015, investments in the Far Eastern Federal District amounted to 99,6% compared to the same period last year, which is still better than the indicator for Russia (91,6%). Last year, four regions showed positive dynamics - the Amur Region (131,1%), the Magadan Region (126%), the Jewish Autonomous Region (122%), and to a small extent - Yakutia (100,3%). The inflow of investments in these regions was affected by the implementation of large investment projects. In the case of the Amur Region, significant funds were spent on the main regional megaproject being implemented by the federal government - the construction of the Vostochny cosmodrome. In the Magadan Region and the Jewish Autonomous Region, key projects in the mining sector were gradually being completed. So, in Kolyma, a new gold deposit Pavlik started working, and in the Jewish Autonomous Region the construction of the Kimkano-Sutarsky iron ore mining and processing plant entered the final phase. Thus, the growth of investments in the Far East has so far been provided by the "old" players represented by the federal authorities (with the project of the cosmodrome) and raw materials companies.

However, a decline in investment was recorded in the Khabarovsk Territory (74,9%), Primorsky Krai (78,7%), the Chukotka Autonomous Region (90,1%) and Kamchatka Krai (91,4%). The most noteworthy is the decline in investment in both the “central” regions of the Far East — the Primorsky and Khabarovsk territories, where the new development institutions (which were created most of all in the Primorye region) so far only create the prerequisites for investment growth. A slight drop was observed in Sakhalin (99,8%). The total investment in fixed assets in the Far East over 2015 was 885,7 billion rubles.

A more optimistic picture is shown by the first quarter of the year 2016 - investments in fixed assets in the Far Eastern Federal District show a slight increase - 101,8%, while in Russia the index is 95,2%. Positive dynamics is observed in five regions: colossal growth in the PJSC (178,7%), followed by Yakutia (130,4%), EAO (115,7%), Amur Region (103,0%) and Kamchatka Territory (101,5%). Chukotka is always distinguished by sharp fluctuations in its economic indicators from year to year, then for the worse, then for the better, and therefore its example is not indicative, given and a small amount of investment. Growth in Yakutia and the Jewish Autonomous Region continues to be linked to the implementation of raw materials projects, and it was he who helped the DFO to get into the plus by the end of the quarter.

Meanwhile, a slight decrease was again noted in the Khabarovsk Territory (99,1%), results in the Sakhalin Region (96,5%), Primorsky Krai (95,9%) deteriorated, and the worst fall was observed in the Magadan Region (47,6%), although the region showed good results According to the results of 2015 year (thereby launching a new gold project turned into a subsequent decline in investment). In general, we can expect that in the 2016 year, the DFO will have a positive investment momentum. However, in the same Primorsky and Khabarovsk regions, expectations of investment inflows remain expectations.

Not the best position of the Far Eastern regions is noted in various investment ratings. Experts and analysts are in no hurry to issue “advances” to the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District, expecting more concrete results. None of the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District entered the Top 2016 in 18 of the "National rating of the state of the investment climate in the constituent entities of the Russian Federation" presented by the Agency for Strategic Initiatives. At the end of 2015, the results of the regions were also not high - only the third group included Primorsky Territory, Kamchatka Territory and Yakutia, the fourth - Magadan Region, Sakhalin Region and Khabarovsk Territory, and the fifth - Amur Region. However, the position of Primorsky Krai has noticeably improved compared to 2014, when it is in the most backward - the fifth group.

According to the investment rating of the RAEX (Expert RA) rating agency, at the end of 2015, Yakutia, Khabarovsk Territory, Primorsky Territory and Sakhalin Region were included in the group of "low potential and moderate risk", which, however, is the best result among the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District. The Amur Region was in the “insignificant potential - moderate risk” group, while the Kamchatka Territory, Magadan Region, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, and the Jewish Autonomous Region were in one of the worst groups - “insignificant potential - high risk”. Moreover, the positions of the regions have not changed compared to 2014.

Thus, the investment climate is gradually improving in the Far East due to various mechanisms, and this is stimulating an increasing number of business players. The current results for 2016 inspire cautious optimism, and also suggest that the position of the macroregion has become noticeably better than that of other federal districts. A wide range of opportunities in terms of financing and preferential support, areas of activity cannot leave indifferent investors who understand the seriousness and economic potential of the Far East, and the intentions of the state. One of the main priorities remains attracting foreign investors and players from other regions of Russia, as well as creating new projects, albeit small ones, but from scratch. Although the expansion of the capacity of existing enterprises also contributes to the development of the Far East. Nevertheless, while the macroregion is at the very beginning of the path to a radical change in the investment situation.

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