Alabuga to expand its special economic zone to Bryansk

The management company of the Tatarstan SEZ is learning to circumvent territorial bans and is ready to enter the regions

Alabuga to expand its special economic zone to Bryansk
Photo: Maksim Platonov

As it became known to Realnoe Vremya, Alabuga SEZ began expansion to transfer the preferential regime to Russian regions that were late for the distribution of preferential tax regimes of the ministry of economic development of Russia. The delegation of the managing company of Alabuga SEZ headed by the deputy director general for state programmes held the first negotiations on the opening of an investment site in Bryansk Oblast. Orenburg Oblast and Tyumen Oblast are ahead. The reason for going beyond the borders of Tatarstan is that Alabuga has exhausted the territorial area allowed by federal law within one subject of 4,000 square metres, or 40 hectares. According to Natalia Zubarevich, the chief researcher at the HSE Institute of Social Policy, this is not trading of benefits, but a workaround to “get the left ear with right heel” in the conditions of the “distorted law”.

The Bryansk offer from Marat Khusnullin?

Bryansk Oblast, which has never been seen in special ties with Tatarstan, suddenly began preparing to open a branch of the Alabuga SEZ on its territory. Earlier, the regional media issued brief reports about the upcoming visit of the delegation of the managing company of Alabuga SEZ. The main goal was for the region to quickly obtain the status of a special tax regime for industrial-type SEZ for the peripheral territory — the Novozybkovsky district with a population of about 40-50 thousand people. Before this, the region could get neither SEZ nor PSEDA regime — there are no tax incentives to attract investors.

However, on the investment portal of the region, the message appeared that the authorities began to look for an investor for Novozybkovsky Machine-Building Plant JSC (part of bankrupt Railtransholding), which produced tank cars for bulk cargo. At the end of July, the plant was declared bankrupt, and the register of creditors' claims includes claims for 6,3 billion rubles, according to the arbitration file. This is the only city-forming enterprise of the district, and the sources in the region attributed its rescue to receiving tax preferences from Alabuga SEZ.

“Bryansk Oblast could create such a zone on its own. Moreover, the issue was discussed with the ministry of finance and the ministry of economic development, but in this case, the procedure would have stretched for one and a half to two years. The branch of Alabuga can be created very quickly. This is what Bogomaz and Minnikhanov agreed to," the media of Bryansk Oblast reported. It remains unclear where and when the heads of the two regions agreed, as the press service of the president of Tatarstan did not publish releases about these meetings. Sources claim that Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin has recently asked for help with this project during his stay in Kazan.

On the investment portal of the region, a message appeared that the authorities began to look for an investor for Novozybkovsky Machine-Building Plant JSC. Photo: novozybkov.su

Expansion into Russian regions

The official confirmation of interest in the region of Alabuga SEZ was not immediately expressed, but some time later. As the press service of the managing company of Alabuga SEZ reported, the deputy director general for state programmes A.A. Ayupov was on a reference visit to Bryansk . No other details were disclosed. The press service noted that they adhere to the privacy policy when conducting any negotiations. Later, however, the management company openly told Realnoe Vremya about expansion to other regions.

“One of the strategic tasks facing Alabuga SEZ is to create new platforms for investments in other Russian regions, and transfer the positive experience of Tatarstan in attracting investment. As part of this project, Alabuga plans to open new sites throughout Russia — where businesses need them," Timur Shagivaleyev, the director general of Alabuga SEZ, told our publication.

Entering other regions in the company is associated with an acute struggle for investors. “Competition for investors is now increasing not only in Russia but also on a global level. The highest level of investor requests requires us to constantly develop and improve our own efficiency. Today, Alabuga has created a world-class infrastructure and has accumulated unique experience in working with major investment projects. Our task is to transfer this experience," Shagivaleyev stressed.

According to sources of Realnoe Vremya, this year the entry of SEZs into Orenburg Oblast and Tyumen Oblast is actively discussed. “At the moment, a number of projects in other regions are under development and negotiations," the press service of the management company confirmed. “Among many regions, there is a specific request for cooperation with Alabuga SEZ to transfer experience in both the format of industrial parks and in the format of preferential SEZ regimes. The team of Alabuga is the interaction with each of these regions.”

No room in Tatarstan

In fact, the reason for the exit of Alabuga SEZ outside of Tatarstan is different. According to the source of Realnoe Vremya, Alabuga has exhausted the territorial area allowed by the federal law within one subject of 4,000 hectares, last year the federal authorities transferred the authority to manage zones to the regions, leaving the capital of the SEZ. So, the regional authorities have been steering the growth process themselves since this year.

“According to the federal law 'On special economic zones', the maximum permissible area of SEZs in a subject of the Russian Federation can not be more than 4 thousand square metres or 40 hectares. It is fully packed with residents. Therefore, to open a branch, Bryansk Oblast must submit an application to the government of the Russian Federation to increase the area of the Tatarstan SEZ to avoid violating the federal law," he explained. According to him, in the future, the host region has the right to choose the managing company itself, although, most likely, it can be Alabuga. However, this procedure will take at least six months.

The source of the publication believes that Alabuga can easily enter the regions where they could not get tax preferences to attract investors at all: “The submission of applications for PSEDA is finally finished. Criteria for the introduction of SEZs are being tightened. At the federal level, there is talk of merging SEZs.”

Talia Minullina reported the risk of falling investment volumes at the end of the year, but in the first half of the year, the economy of the republic received 114 billion rubles of private investment from large and medium-sized enterprises of Tatarstan. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Loyal Bryansk ahead of Tyumen?

Let us remind that for the first time, the head of the agency, Talia Minullina, announced the creation of investment sites outside the republic at the board of the Tatarstan Investment Development Agency: “Alabuga as the most successful economic zone of the Russian Federation will manage three new investment sites in other regions of the Russian Federation. One of these regions will be Tyumen Oblast, and a decision will be made on the other two in the near future," she said. Last October, the authorities of Tyumen Oblast agreed with the leadership of Tatarstan that they would take as partners the management company of the special economic zone (SEZ) Alabuga for the development of the same site in Tobolsk together with Sibur. However, instead of Tyumen, the first may be Bryansk, which is interesting for its proximity to Belarus and access to Poland.

At the meeting of the Investment Council on 19 August, the head of the agency, Talia Minullina, reported the risk of falling investment volumes at the end of the year, but in the first half of the year, the economy of the republic received 114 billion rubles of private investment from large and medium-sized enterprises of Tatarstan, as well as 12 billion rubles from the Russian regions. This is comparable to the figures for 2019. On 19 August, seven investment projects were approved with an investment volume of 11 billion rubles, which will go to the PSEDA.

Natalia Zubarevich, the chief researcher at the HSE Institute of Social Policy, believes that Alabuga SEZ did not start trading tax benefits with the regions but found a workaround to “get the left ear with the right heel” in the conditions of the “distorted law”:

“Instead of expanding the territory of the zone inside Tatarstan, they have to lead investors to other regions. But when the law is “distorted”, you have to work at least so," said Zubarevich. “But in this case, the management company may face difficulties — support may be conditional in the regions. Tyumen has its own strong team, and here they will think: how is it that Tatarstan will still manage here? In this sense, Bryansk Oblast is ideal — there will be no interference. And the region will get investment, jobs and taxes that were not there.
By Luiza Ignatyeva
Tatarstan