Far East An Integral Part Russia’s Future – OpEd


The Eastern Economic Forum, which was held for the 8th time, is a platform devoted to discuss promising and strategic areas for the development of the Russia’s Far East, the Arctic and the entire Asia-Pacific region. It also devoted to assess the main trends that determine the further development of international business relations. The key ultimate aim is to bring direct long-term mutual benefits, a new emerging model of relationships and integration.

Russia has come up with special tax, administrative and customs preferences in the Far East in order to promote the development of industrial sites and high-tech production facilities and to create new jobs. It has also taken on the construction of infrastructure and bringing utilities to industrial sites. This business support is provided in the priority development areas and the free port of Vladivostok, although other territories have been added to this port as well. Last year, a special preferential regime was launched on the Kuril Islands.

The Far East accounts for 40 percent of Russia’s territory. Almost half of the forestland and gold reserves, more than 70 percent of fish, diamonds, and over 30 percent of titanium, copper and so on are located here. Notably, in 2022 Russia’s trade with Asia-Pacific countries increased by 13.7 percent and added another 18.3 percent in the first six months of 2023.

The Far East and for its future, Russia’s position in a multipolar world is immense. The advanced development of the Far East is absolute priority for the 21st century. The prospects for the Far East and the Arctic are related not only to the development of mineral deposits, but without doubts, high demand both in the domestic industry.

It is also necessary to provide long-term and cheap financing for investment projects that are affordable to both small and medium-sized businesses, as well as major production companies in all areas and sectors, territories and districts.  It is necessary to promote projects that require large, multi-billion investments which, in turn, become points of attraction for related sectors, the construction industry, service companies and equipment manufacturers, and for small businesses too.

Plans call for connecting the Sila Sibiri (Power of Siberia) and Sakhalin-Khabarovsk-Vladivostok gas pipelines including the integrated gas supply system. Russia is now considering significantly to expand the programme to connect communities in Buryatia, the Trans-Baikal Territory and other Far Eastern regions to the gas distribution system and provide the local industries in the Far East.

Russia will continue to modernise the Baikal-Amur Mainline and the Trans-Siberian Railway. Certainly, the pace needs to be stepped up, including through concessions and by attracting private capital for the construction of bridges, tunnels and overpasses.

In this connection, Russia plans building the Pacific Railway and a new port on the Sea of Okhotsk, which will allow to utilise the resources of Yakutia and the northern regions in the Khabarovsk Territory, and to secure direct access to Asia-Pacific markets.

Russian companies are currently building a new port on Taimyr and modernising the Pangody-Nadym railway on Yamal. There are many such examples when businesses making long-term investment in logistics, transport, energy projects, construction of railways and motorways, sea terminals and airports.

Russia has opened a section of the high-speed motorway from Moscow to Arzamas. By the end of 2023, the road will reach Kazan, and then Yekaterinburg and Tyumen. It will certainly continue this major project and build high-speed roads across Siberia and the Far East to reach the Pacific Ocean. The Rossiya integrated transport corridor will be created from St Petersburg to Vladivostok. It will help develop tourism, connect logistics, agrarian and production centres, and will give a boost to entrepreneurship and revival of cities and villages.

A separate matter is the development of air travel between the Far East and the European part of Russia, as well as improving direct interconnectivity of the Far Eastern regions, so that people would not have to fly to neighbouring regions via Moscow or Siberian airports. The exact parameters and target points are to be outlined, but  by 2030, passenger flow on the domestic flights within the Far East would grow to, at least, 4 million people per year.

There are special mechanisms for the development of housing construction, including the so-called Far Eastern Quarter project, where companies that are engaged in comprehensive development receive the benefits available to resident companies in priority development areas. As a result, the design stage includes housing plus a comfortable urban environment and social infrastructure, such as kindergartens, outpatient clinics, sports centres, and more.

Bolstered by the mechanisms of the Far Eastern Quarter, a satellite town is being built near Vladivostok. It will accommodate some 80,000 people in a state-of-the-art living environment. As part of the presidential subsidy programme, over 1,500 facilities have been built, repaired and equipped in all Far Eastern regions. These include schools, hospitals, gyms, fitness and health centres, houses of culture.

On September 1, a law came into effect to provide proper conditions and a legislative framework for ecotourism and create a foundation for unlocking the scientific and tourism potential of the protected areas. It is important to provide them with proper infrastructure. In this regard, an additional funding be allocated to national parks in the Far East next year – and not through redistribution of funds allotted for other nature sites but by providing additional money over and above the envisaged financing.

Russia has launched major landmark projects in the production of natural resources and the manufacturing industry, housing construction and upgrading of the transport network. Plans to modernise cities and towns have been drawn up and are being acted upon.

A huge, key role in achieving all these results belongs to the people of the Far East, whose families have lived there for many generations and those who have recently arrived there from other regions to work, study or run their own businesses. The Far East remains the strategic priority for the rest of the 21st century.

Kester Kenn Klomegah

Kester Kenn Klomegah is an independent researcher and a policy consultant on African affairs in the Russian Federation and Eurasian Union. He has won media awards for highlighting economic diplomacy in the region with Africa. Currently, Klomegah is a Special Representative for Africa on the Board of the Russian Trade and Economic Development Council. He enjoys travelling and visiting historical places in Eastern and Central Europe. Klomegah is a frequent and passionate contributor to Eurasia Review.

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