Activity stop in Cuba and Belarus: how Tatarstan representative offices to operate in 2024
Tatarstan continues to develop international relations despite sanctions and borders
Almost 2 years ago, Russia's relations with the West passed the point of no return, after which the familiar concept of the world order lost its significance. Despite this, the authorities of Tatarstan continue to interact with their foreign colleagues. The representative offices of the republic, although focusing on “fraternal” neighbours, continue to work there with those who are now listed as “unfriendly”. Presentations of investment potential, conclusion of contracts between enterprises, establishment of business relations: how the trade and plenipotentiary missions of the republic live outside its borders — in the material of Realnoe Vremya.
“There are 13 representative offices in foreign countries”
The Ministry of Industry and Trade of Tatarstan annually prepares indicators for evaluating the activities of authorised, permanent, and trade and economic representations of the republic for the upcoming and planned periods. There were no exceptions in 2022, and therefore there are none now — the agency has already submitted a document on 2024 and 2025 for examination. The first thing that catches your eye when you study it is the lack of countries:
“In 2022-2023, Tatarstan's representative offices in foreign countries and regions of Russia were open. The republic's representative offices in Belarus, Cuba, and the USA did not carry out activities during the specified period. Currently, there are 13 representative offices in the countries of the near and far abroad (16 in total, but three representative offices do not operate). There are eight representative offices in the constituent entities of Russia," the Ministry of Industry and Trade told Realnoe Vremya.
Thus, representative offices in Japan, the Czech Republic, Leipzig (Germany), Switzerland, France, and other countries are still continuing their work. Yes, in many countries that have imposed or supported sanctions, some of the areas of cooperation have changed or disappeared at all. At the same time, some of the same states continue to export Tatarstan products to their market, increasing the number of enterprises covered. These mainly include European countries that were involved in the introduction of restrictions against mastodons of the republican industry: KAMAZ PJSC, Kazan Helicopters JSC, Ak Bars Shipbuilding Corporation JSC in Zelenodolsk, Zelenodolsk Design Bureau JSC, Kazan Optical and Mechanical Plant JSC and others.
As for the representative office in the United States, back in 2022 it organised three events in the field of tourism and three more in the field of education. At the same time, American enterprises have signed one contract with small and medium-sized enterprises of the republic. In turn, the Ministry of Healthcare of the Republic of Tatarstan sent one citizen to undergo routine medical care. And the volume of investments in the region was $20 million. The trade mission was no longer functioning that year. At the same time, on January 26, the Ministry of Finance of the United States imposed personal sanctions against the rais of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov. His wife Gulsina Minnikhanova was also blacklisted by the department.
Tatarstan citizens also work in the rear of NATO
It is also interesting that the trade mission of Tatarstan in Finland continues its work, which in 2023 practically declared a “hybrid” war on Russia:
“The trade and economic representative office of Tatarstan in Finland this year carried out work within the framework of the unified Russian-Finnish cooperation," the press service of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the republic stated.
This year, according to the previous document of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, through the representative office of Tatarstan in Finland, the number of export enterprises was to be increased from 13 to 15. In 2022, the volume of investments from the country to the republic amounted to $5 million, and in 2023 the Tatarstan Investment Development Agency held four of its presentations there. In turn, only one contract was signed by the Ministry of Economy in 2023 (two in 2022). In 2024, the Ministry of Industry is to conclude four more export contracts. The Tatarstan Investment Development Agency is going to hold five presentations at once, the Ministry of Agriculture is going to establish four import links, and the Ministry of Sports is going to post 20 materials on the trade mission's website at once about sports events in Tatarstan (apparently related to the BRICS Games and the Games of the Future — editor's note).
Let us remind that Finland and Sweden applied to join NATO in May 2022 against the background of the Russian military operation in Ukraine. The Finnish parliament approved the country's entry into the alliance on March 1, 2023. On March 31, the Turkish parliament approved a bill on ratification of the protocol on the state's accession to the alliance. Already on April 4, the Polish Prime Minister announced that Finland had officially become a member of the alliance.
In autumn, Finland officially banned cars with Russian license plates from entering its territory — the ban began on September 16. An exception was made for EU citizens and their entourage, employees of diplomatic missions and those who go to the country for humanitarian reasons. Russian cars that are already in the country must leave it by mid-March 2024. Against the background of this ban, in the third quarter, Russians made more than 200,000 trips across the Finnish border on bicycles, which is by 53% less than a year ago. Then Finland imposed an indefinite ban on crossing the border from Russia on bicycles.
After all these restrictions, Finland began to close checkpoints on the border with Russia. In response to these actions, the Russian side protested. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova called these actions “Russophobic” and attempts to justify themselves for them — “clumsy”. Moreover, in November, against the background of the closure of a number of checkpoints, the Finnish defence forces, together with border guards, began to erect a barrier at the border. Then the checkpoints were repeatedly opened and closed again. The last to speak about the situation with this country was Russia's President Vladimir Putin, who announced the need to create the Leningrad Military District.
The head of the state called Finland's accession to NATO as the reason for this. Putin stressed that Russia and Finland had previously had “the most cordial relations”.
“There were no problems. Now they will be. Because now we will create the Leningrad Military District and concentrate certain military units there. Why do they need it, it's just nonsense," he said.
“Representative offices are a mechanism of interaction with compatriots”
According to the approved indicators for evaluating the effectiveness of representative offices, in 2024 they are to carry out a number of activities, each of which has its own department.
For example, the implementation of the plan on the number of contracts concluded between enterprises of the republic and the country for the export of non-primary and non-energy products. The Investment Development Agency (TIDA) will organise and conduct presentations of the investment potential of the republic. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food will establish business ties for the import of agro-industrial products. In turn, the Ministry of Economy must fulfill the plan for the number of contracts concluded with contractors of the countries where the representative offices are located, as well as small and medium-sized businesses. The Ministry of Culture will hold a number of events planned by Tatar public organisations. The Ministry of Education and Science, as well as the Ministry of Youth, organises participation in international events, as well as visits by youth delegations. The list also includes the Ministry of Healthcare, which will direct Tatarstan residents to provide planned medical care as part of the development of medical services exports.
“Representative offices regularly search for potential partners in the host countries and subjects, work out possible supply chains through the CIS countries, the Middle East and Asia, search for logistics partners for supplies, actively explore opportunities for increasing trade turnover with friendly countries. The representative offices also provide constant assistance to the republican executive authorities in the framework of visits of the republic's delegations to the host countries and subjects, during visits of foreign and Russian delegations to Tatarstan, in organising business forums, intergovernmental commissions and assistance in exhibition activities. The system of representative offices is the main mechanism of interaction with compatriots in the countries and subjects of residence. Support is provided to the Tatar diaspora on a regular basis. To preserve Tatar culture, national holidays are held in regions and foreign countries, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Republic of Tatarstan explained to Realnoe Vremya.
Sports events and IT Park solutions: what Tatarstan will brag about to its foes
As mentioned above, some trade and economic representative offices do not just continue their operation in the territories of unfriendly countries. Their plans in some industries are no different from those that will be carried out within the country or in cooperation with “friends” and “neighbours”.
- The representative office of Tatarstan in France is going to increase the number of enterprises engaged in exports from the republic by another four units (in 2023, their number was supposed to reach 16, and in 2022 — 14). The TIDA will also come to the country with its presentations (five against four in 2023 and 0 in 2022). It is planned to establish four business links along the agricultural line, as well as this year. The Ministry of Economy will hold one event to promote export activities, and the Ministry of Finance will show 10 catalogs of solutions from the Kazan IT Park (both departments have not previously participated). This year, the Ministry of Sports also carried out work in three directions at once, and the Ministry of Youth Affairs sent one delegation. They have not been announced for next year.
- As for Turkey, the number of enterprises engaged in exports there will also increase by ten — 36 against 26 last year (24 in 2022). Work on agriculture will also continue — it is planned to establish four business ties (as well as this year). The work on concluding contracts with the state's counterparties will remain unchanged — there will be two of them, like in the previous year. The TIDA will show five presentations, the Ministry of Digital Development and the Ministry of Sports will do the same as in France, and the Ministry of Youth Affairs will send one delegation to share experiences.
- In the Czech Republic, Tatarstan will work modestly enough: the same four contracts, five presentations, four agar communications and information events on the sports line. In the same year, the trade mission held three educational competitions from the Ministry of Education and Science and one project Ana Tele — no such events are planned in 2024. Until 2020, the authorities of the republics used to hold the annual business forum Tatarstan — Czech Republic. The representatives of the European country have repeatedly visited the region, and Alabuga SEZ could become a place for the establishment of Czech enterprises.
- In Switzerland, it is planned to conclude four export contracts, “brag about” sports events, hold five presentations and one event to promote export activities among small and medium-sized businesses. For comparison, one delegation from the Ministry of Youth Affairs was also sent there this year. Earlier this month, Tatneft liquidated two companies with headquarters in Switzerland: the subsidiary trading Tatneft Europe AG and the settlement and financial Tatneft Explora AG.
- The city of Leipzig (Germany) is the leader in exports from the republic — 37 enterprises. There are two more this year, and four are planned for 2023. Otherwise, the activities of the trade mission are no different from those that will be implemented in Switzerland. Let us remind that in November 2022, the German government extended the powers of Takhir Gataullin as the trade and economic representative of the republic in Germany.
- The least number of events are planned to be held in Japan — hosting 20 information events about sports events and four events for the organisation of cooperation in this area. The TIDA will also show five presentations, and that's it, no business. However, let us remind that this year the representative office in this country was supposed to export six enterprises at once. Four more tasks were to be solved in the field of digital technologies.
The growing number of business contacts and Sabantuys: what the republic wants from its “friends”
In 2024, Tatarstan aims at the large-scale development of cultural and medical areas in neighbouring countries. As for the “friends” of the republic, who do not have nationally similar roots, there is a bet on industry and the economy. The Investment Development Agency alone will hold five presentations in each country (with the exception of Azerbaijan, they are not scheduled there).
- The authorised representative office in Kazakhstan should increase the number of Tatarstan enterprises engaged in exports to this country next year. In 2022, there were 84 of them, and in 2023 — 86. Now 10 more should be added to them. The Ministry of Economy, in turn, must implement the plan immediately for ten contracts between Kazakh enterprises and Tatarstan small and medium-sized enterprises. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food is to establish four contacts, the Ministry of Youth Affairs is to send one delegation, the Ministry of Education and Science is to hold four events, and the Ministry of Culture is to organise 10 events (in 2023 there were nine of them, and in 2022 — eight). Sabantuy is among them; the event dedicated Day of the Republic of Tatarstan; qualifying round of Tatar Mona Tatar song festival; organisation of tours of creative teams; organisation of qualifying round of Tatar Kyzy beauty and talent contest; events for Day of Tatar cuisine; National Language Day; information support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Tatarstan to attract interested persons; Lifestyle — Cultural Code ethno-fashion festival.
- The same situation is developing with the permanent mission in Azerbaijan: the number of exporting enterprises will be increased to 41 (33 in 2022 and 31 in 2022). The Ministry of Healthcare of the Republic of Tatarstan will send about 300 patients for medical care, another delegation will be organised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs. The Ministry of Culture organises three events (there were two this year, none in 2022): the same Sabantuy, the Lifestyle — Cultural Code ethno-fashion festival, and Day of Tatar Cuisine. A special feature of the 2024 year will be that the State Committee for Tourism will break into the game, which will show a presentation on the tourism potential, inform about cultural events, and also begin to establish contacts with Azerbaijani tour operators.
- Similar work will be carried out in Uzbekistan: 53 export enterprises against 45 in 2023 (43 in 2022); eight contracts with counterparties of countries and small and medium-sized enterprises of Tatarstan from the Ministry of Economy (as this year); display of the catalog of IT park solutions and one delegation visit from the Ministry of Finance; 300 patients from the Ministry of Healthcare. The two latter departments did not exist either last year or the year before. The Ministry of Culture will also contribute, which will work in ten directions — the same as in Kazakhstan.
- An increase in exports will also occur with Turkmenistan — six new enterprises will be added (+2 were this year), and their total number will reach 24. Besides, the number of patients referred for routine medical care will grow from 200 to 300 (there were 200 in 2023, and 100 — in 2022). The Ministry of Agriculture and Food will also perform four tasks, the Ministry of Education and Science — four, and the Ministry of Economic Development — one.
- Curiously, events are unfolding in Dubai (UAE), where the TIDA showed four presentations in 2023 (a year earlier there were 10). The Ministry of Economy will conclude 4 contracts, not one, as in 2023 (almost like in 2022, when there were five). The Ministry of Industry and Trade will have six more contracts. The Ministry of Sports will organise cooperation through four events. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food will spend the same amount. Three more, where the tourism potential of the republic will be presented, will fall on the shoulders of the State Committee for Tourism of the Republic of Tatarstan. Also in 2023, work was started on four events in the field of education, there are no such plans in the future.
- The representative office in China will increase the number of enterprises engaged in exports to 37 (+8 contracts). In 2023, their number increased to 29, while in 2022 there were 27. Let us remind that last year the volume of investments of the People's Republic of China in the republic amounted to $10 million. Three events in the field of tourism are also planned, just one contract from the Ministry of Economy, one trip by the delegation of the Ministry of Youth Affairs, and all the same work in the field of sports.
Everything is stable in the regions
The work of the representative offices will also be carried out on the territory of Russia. For example, in Sverdlovsk Oblast, Tatarstan is going to increase the plan for the number of enterprises engaged in exports to 35 (27 in 2023, 25 in 2022). Also, last year, about $250 million of investments were received from the region to the republic, and therefore, the TIDA will increase the number of its presentations from four to five. The volume of investments is still unknown. Besides, the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Tatarstan carried out work with the subject this year (it did not interact in 2022). Activities in this area will continue in 2024: showing IT solutions, informing about events and visits by official delegations. The Ministry of Culture is also planning to hold one more event next year — there were eight of them, and there will be nine. These are ethnocultural festivals, Days of the Republic, Tatar cuisine, language, etc.
In July 2022, the rais of Tatarstan, Rustam Minnikhanov and Governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast Evgeny Kuyvashev signed an action plan for the implementation of the agreement between the regions for the period up to 2024. Promising areas for cooperation between the regions are the supply of KAMAZ automotive equipment to enterprises implementing large construction projects, as well as the organisation of supplies of household and medical refrigeration equipment POZIS.
Similar work of representative offices will be carried out in St. Petersburg (Leningrad region), Bashkiria, and Sevastopol (Crimea). The only exception is that in the last two cities (regions), six, not eight enterprises will be exported.
Let us remind that in early November of this year, Rustam Minnikhanov also met with the governor of St. Petersburg, Alexander Beglov. They discussed further steps to develop comprehensive cooperation between the republic and the Northern capital, as well as strengthening trade, economic, and humanitarian ties.