— Your Association is quite young. What was the reason for creating it, and in extremely unfavourable conditions, when relations between the West and Russia are going through difficult times?
Our position is very simple: we are against sanctions because they are harmful to entrepreneurship. There is of course a political component in the question of sanctions, but we are on the side of the entrepreneurs, so we shall not support such measures.
It is an association of Italian industrialists working in Russia and with Russia.
It was created in 2015.
The organization links about 100 Italian enterprises of industry, high technologies, and also in the banking sector and the services field, including ENI, SAIPEM, CAMPARI, ARISTON, CREMONINI, MAPEI, Gi GROUP, TECNIMONT, SIAD, PIZZAROTTI, CODEST, ARNEG, DE CECCO, UNICREDIT BANK and many others.
The joint world turnover of the companies belonging to the Association is over 160 billion euros.
— There are indeed very favourable conditions for investment in Russia, for example, in the framework of industrial parks or special economic zones. The tax rates are very good. Take profits tax at about 15%, or property tax, which the Russian authorities may reduce to zero for the first 5-10 years of investments. You have to bear in mind that things may be different depending on the region: each one has its own rules and particular features, since not all questions are decided at Federal level. The regions compete with each other, and as a result, conditions for doing business improve literally every year.
— There are more than 400 Italian companies operating in Russia at present. But the main thing is not how many there are. The percentage of joint ventures is far more important.
To those wanting to open their business in Moscow and in Russia
1. Don’t look for profit this very minute. Work with the long term in view.
Russia is interested in long-term cooperation.
2. Invest some time in studying the Russian market.
Not all investments in establishing yourself in the Russian market incur financial costs, and that goes for mental ones.
3. “Become Russian”: think as Russians do, mix with Russians, study the language and spend time on Russian soil.
This will bring an understanding of Russian society and business in the RF. You can’t have dealings with Russia while sitting at home.
4. Establish long-term relationships with Russian financial and industrial partners.
Russia is not an “amusement park”, and it is not just a matter of pure commerce: Russian business develops in a different direction.
5. Philosophical advice, but possibly the most important: believe that your business will change Russia for the better.
If the main thing for you is not just commerce and sales, if you are confident that your business will play a key role in the Russian economy, good will surely come of it.
— Sanctions have created a negative attitude to Russia, including from the psychological point of view. They made investors think: is it worth while investing in this country? Will my products or technologies be liable to sanctions? In such a situation, most potential investors will decide it is not worth the risk, and will not invest money in the RF. Alas, that’s the way things are. However, the point is that we are losing Russia this very day, therefore I repeat: the door must be kept open. Do not leave the market, on the contrary, win it. You need a thorough analysis of what sanctions cover and what they do not. The opportunities for interacting with Russia must be studied. Confindustria Russia does not only face the job of convincing investors of the need to invest money just in the RF. But we must explain what opportunities and prospects exist here for doing business primarily in the interests of Italy.
— The creation of joint ventures may be a very good way of moving business forward. They can be set up both with financial and industrial partners. The latter option is preferable. because industrialists know the market well. The foreign company provides the know-how, the technologies, the competence and possibly a small part of the investments. Thus Russia receives new technologies, and we are fully entitled to claim a share of the market. It must be best to work along these lines, and do so right now, not let it drag on for years. Russia has tremendous potential of long-term stable resources. And this tremendous potential must not depend only on such financial parameters as the rouble rate or the price of oil.