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2009 | nr 16 | 307--318
Tytuł artykułu

Russia Developing its Regions with Special Economic Zones

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Języki publikacji
Approximately 20 special economic zones (SEZs) have been founded in Russia. Four of them are innovation zones, two manufacturing zones, seven tourism zones, three port zones and two old zones of the 1990»s, namely the Kaliningrad SEZ and the Magadan SEZ. Additionally, four gambling zones are to be opened by July 2009. The Russian SEZs currently produce more plans than results i.e. unrealistic plans characterised by the contemporary Russian SEZs. Only the Kaliningrad SEZ and the Magadan SEZ can be classi- fied as fully operational, and therefore, it is far too early to make any firm conclusion about the eco- nomic impact of these zones on the Russian economy. On the other hand, it is highly desirable that a follow-up of the Russian SEZs will be carried out in 3-5 years from now, since the results of today do not necessarily describe the potential of tomorrow. Despite the slow progress of the Russian SEZs, some indicative findings can be presented. First, the tax privileges offered by the Russian SEZs lower the investment barrier for foreigners, but the benefits alone are not sufficient to attract foreign firms to invest in Russia. Furthermore, Russia's poor reputation for immaterial rights, its stagnant innovation system, the low-tech image of the country, a lack of R&D-related finance, and administrative inertia downplay the advantages provided by the zones. The growing role of the military-industrial complex in innovation building distracts both Rus- sian private companies and foreign firms from their innovation activities. I strongly believe that the adaptation of the military-led innovation system will not jump start the diversification of the Russian economy, since the military-led innovation systems are by nature expensive, inefficient, and corrupt due to their secrecy, bureaucracy and non-competition. An ICT collaboration between the Saint Petersburg innovation SEZ and the Nordic companies would be natural, and the close distance could create an additional competitive advantage, if Nordic companies are not afraid of taking risks involved in Russia's poor respect of immaterial rights.Although the Kaliningrad region is unfamiliar to most foreign investors, I would advise that foreign companies considering an investment exceeding EUR 4 million in Russia make a feasibility study of the investment opportunities in Kaliningrad. Besides considerable tax benefits, the adminis­tration of the Kaliningrad SEZ has a good reputation for being investor-friendly, and furthermore, Kaliningrad is close to other Central European markets. Should Kaliningrad truly manage to become Russia's leisure centre on the Baltic Sea, it is self-evident that high-quality construction companies from the West may find additional demand there. (original abstract)
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