- The development of Siberia and the Far East is our national priority for the entire 21st century. We have already made a number of significant steps to resolve this grand-scale task. We are actively implementing a programme of socioeconomic development of the Far East and the Baikal region, which includes dozens of major investment projects, including the construction of the Power of Siberia gas pipeline, Vostochny space launch centre, gas refining and gas chemical projects planned by Gazprom and Sibur, modernisation and expansion of the Baikal-Amur and Trans-Siberian mainlines, and the Zvezda shipyards.
Of course, Russia is interested in attracting foreign, including Chinese investors to participate in the implementation of these projects. The Federal Law On Priority Development Areas in Russia has created a new instrument both for the country in general and for the Far Eastern regions, where we have already created 9 such areas.
Priority development areas, along with special economic zones, should become the ‘locomotives’ of economic transformation in the Far East, sort of clusters that attract and accumulate investment and technology. Major tax incentives and simplified business procedures help create on these territories favourable conditions for investment and business regardless of the country the capital comes from.
Resident companies will enjoy the following benefits: zero profit tax, property tax and land tax for the first 5 years; zero import and export customs duty; subsidies on loans, special rates on rent and simplified state and municipal control procedures. For 10 years after obtaining a Priority Development Area (PDA) resident status, businesses will make lower insurance payments (7.6 percent instead of 30). Value added tax on imports for refining will also be zero.
However, stimulation measures are not limited to this. National and foreign companies will enjoy mineral extraction tax holiday: reduction factor (between 0 and 0.8 percent) will be applied for 10 years. Administrative barriers will be minimised. Most importantly, the state undertakes to create the necessary infrastructure. The Russian Government estimates that total investment in the first three priority development areas alone will constitute over 50 billion rubles. The federal budget is also allocating significant funds for their development – about 7.5 billion rubles.
Just as large-scale changes are in store for investors in the south of Primorye Territory, where we are introducing a free port regime that would cover all the key ports from Nakhodka to Zarubino, including Vladivostok, of course. The law on free port will come into effect in October 2015. Here we intend to introduce significant tax preferences – up to zero rate on certain taxes. The business environment is being simplified to the maximum, including in capital construction, and we are actually introducing a visa-free regime for foreign citizens. A free customs zone procedure will also be in place on the territory of the free port, which actually means duty-free import of foreign goods.
I am convinced that these new opportunities will draw the interest of investors from China and a number of other Asian countries to the implementation of our plans. Moreover, a number of major companies have already put forth specific investment projects. Thus, our Chinese partners are ready to invest over 100 billion rubles into the construction of an oil refinery and a clinker plant in Amur Region, Nizhneleninskoye–Tongjiang and Blagoveshchensk–Heihe bridges, and a metallurgical plant and a brick factory in Yakutia.
The St Petersburg International Economic Forum held in June demonstrated that, despite the sanctions imposed against Russia that hinder the development of quality economic cooperation, the interest in this country among foreign business circles has grown. More than 10,000 participants from 120 countries came to the forum. Therefore, we have no doubt that the first Eastern Economic Forum to be held in Vladivostok on September 3–5 will also attract our foreign partners, primarily those in the Asia-Pacific region.
The main purpose of the forum is to position Russia as an active participant in economic and integration processes in the Asia-Pacific region and to present specific projects to investors for joint implementation. Business circles in India, Vietnam, South Korea, Japan, Singapore and some other countries geographically not belonging to the region are already showing interest in the forum.
We highly value our Chinese partners’ intention to send a strong delegation that will include businessmen from over a hundred leading energy, mining, transport, agricultural, machine building and other companies, as well as representatives from major financial institutions, the central authorities and governors. We expect them to be especially active at the forum.
From the interview to TASS and Xinhua news agencies.