President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Let’s discuss several issues, of which one is particularly significant to the development of our domestic market – the issue of establishing special economic zones.
We have passed a separate law addressing this matter. Such zones have been promoted for some years now, and several of them have been launched. I would like to know about the results they have yielded and the achievements we have made. I would also like to hear if the special legal and economic conditions in the said zones facilitate any specific positive input to the national economy or generate any problems. Please also tell me about how these zones are managed.
Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina: Indeed, we have been promoting their establishment since 2006, so this work has been ongoing for three years. This is a global experiment, as these zones have been used in many nations in order to attract investments to major capital projects and in order to modernise their economic structure.
Experience in other nations has shown that it takes seven to ten years for such a zone to fully develop, reach its maximum potential, and bring the real effect of investments from state and private investors.
Our laws currently provide for four types of zones. We already have industrial manufacturing zones, technology incubation zones, and tourism and recreation zones. There have also been proposals to create port zones.
Currently, two industrial manufacturing zones are being developed in Lipetsk and Tatarstan. We have set four technology incubation zones, in Moscow, the Moscow Region, St Petersburg, and Tomsk. We also have set seven tourism and recreation zones. In addition, a tender has been held for the creation of three port zones with its results now being finalised. In total, we have 207 resident companies registered and operating within these zones — primarily in the technology incubation ones – and making their investments there.
They are launching modern production facilities and centres for developing new products in high-tech sectors, including telecommunications, IT, energy, and energy efficiency.
(Next, Ms Nabiullina told the President about new Government suggestions pertaining to activities within the technology incubation zones and Government assistance to special economic zones, in particular, in infrastructure development and economic zones management improvement, in part by granting additional rights to local authorities.)
And now, following this initial three-year phase of launching special economic zones, we would like to move on to the next phase: turning the zones into instruments of territorial development and pushing for broader implementation of high-tech industries, including at a regional level.
Dmitry Medvedev: Who generally sits on the supervisory board for these zones? Are they representatives of the federal or regional authorities or business representatives? What is the board composition principle?
Elvira Nabiullina: There is an expert supervisory board for each of the different zone types. Each one is headed by a representative from the Ministry of Economic Development, and includes representatives from the region, from business associations, and experts. There are also working groups that make preliminary assessments on business projects for these zones; these groups answer to the supervisory boards.
Dmitry Medvedev: Please encourage them to work more actively, because they are responsible for a great deal of the decisions and targets in this area.
You said these zones must exist for seven to ten years before living up to their full potential. However, we do not have that much time; they need to get there more quickly. This is especially true given that free economic zones – or special economic zones as they are now called in the legislation – have been proven effective in many other nations and such examples are too well known to be cited. We, too, need to reach that same level of efficacy within special economic zones.