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Strengthening cooperation to promote the development of the high range Blue Economy

Giancarlo Elia Valori

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The “blue” industry, especially the high range one, is one of the main development areas for the economy also in the near future.

 China, which has always tried to strike a balance between maritime power and terrestrial equilibria in the Heartland, is the right place to think – for the first time – about a complete water geopolitics, as well as a real global industrial project.

The products that will be the axes of the new future technological revolution will increasingly come from the sea: energy, fast transport; rare metals, but also the most common ones; desalinated and processed water; DNA for study purposes and for medical applications, as well as oil and finally various traditional and non-traditional forms of food.

 If, from now on, we create a global market for the Blue Economy, we will have safe and peaceful world development. Otherwise, if we repeat the old land struggles on the new sea – possibly with the same violent acquisition logic – we will have such new wars that the experience of land clashes cannot even make us imagine.

The Earth is finite and limited. Now we have to work on the sea, but we have to do so all together peacefully and with win-win actions.

 It is estimated that the most environmental-friendly marine industry is currently worth 1.5 trillion US dollars and it is expected to be worth at least twice as much by the end of 2030.

Nowadays China dominates in all these blue economy areas. China’s fishing in foreign waters accounts for 44% of the world’s entire product and the same applies to ocean fishing, which accounts for 52% globally. This also holds true for China’s marine wind energy which accounts for 20% in the world. Also 50% of all the most active ports in the world are Chinese. Unfortunately, China also holds negative records such as 56% of all rivers polluted by plastics in the world.

Half of the world’s industrial fishing is Chinese. Hence, nowadays, China is already the world’s largest sea farmer.  It has already organised the exploitation of its largest marine area for deep-sea mining, thus focusing on a deep-sea area that is four times the size of Switzerland.

 Either you do good business with China in these areas or it is better staying at home.

 Therefore, it is necessary to think about a sea “Silk Road” and not only to reach the Mediterranean.

 A Silk Road to quickly change the whole paradigm of the world economy.

Hence, at the same time, it will also be necessary to reduce polluting emissions and possibly start the construction of many ocean parks, with a view to making the sea recover the products that are extracted from it.

 Fixed cycle of nature, stability of economic cycles.

 Among the companies in the various sectors of the Chinese Blue Economy, the collaboration with selected companies will be particularly useful both for the actual production of marine materials and for environmental protection. It should be recalled that the latter is a side of the Blue Economy coin. China does not think that environmental protection can be separated from the extraction of marine products.

 In Europe, the Blue Economy system is still in the development phase. Hence the figures are still quite small: in 2017, the turnover of the whole sector was 658 billion euros, with a gross profit equal to 74.3 billion euros and a number of employees amounting to 4 million throughout the EU-28.

 Within the European framework, the Blue Economy envisages the usual sectors of the Chinese one, albeit with a specific focus on underwater defence, which in China is calculated separately, in addition to putting all marine biotechnologies into a single category. The EU also envisages sea renewable energies as the greatest sector for future development.

 The traditional European demography is another factor to be considered: 45% (214 million) of the EU population lives on the coasts and the Northern ones always record a higher GDP than the Southern coasts.

 The successful European activities in the Blue Economy are still the traditional ones: tourism, spa and health services and some standard biotechnologies.

Obviously there are also maritime construction and repairs, but in specific areas of the European coasts – activities that now tend to be off the market.

Hence an EU Blue Economy linked to labour-intensive technologies, with insurmountable natural differences in the maximum use levels of the various areas.

 Never as in the case of the Blue Economy do large expanses and boundless areas count – all the dimensions that, as Hegel said, have always been lacking in the physical and geographical dimension of the Eurasian peninsula.

 The Jews called the Mediterranean “the Great Sea”, but this expression does not describe its physical dimensions, but only its historical and cultural ones.

Furthermore, coastal tourism in the EU is worth 54% of all “Blue” jobs and it is still growing, while the transport-related marine economy sectors are decreasing and the remaining maritime sectors are growing very slowly or are stable.

 The problem lies in the fact that the Blue Economy is a global project for transforming the production systems and lifestyles. It is not just a matter of hotels by the sea or deep-sea fishing.

For the EU – which is not a Blue competitor of China, but an area of possible integration of tasks and functions – the living resources of the sea still account for a mere 14% of all “Blue” jobs in the EU. It is, indeed, a very low percentage.

 The extraction of metals from the seabed is scarce in the EU. It accounts for 4% of employment in the whole Blue sector.

Clearly this also includes oil and gas. And both sectors are declining in terms of profit and investment.

There are 600 active offshore platforms in the EU.

 Shipyards account for 8% of employment in the sector, while the maritime product from seaweed processing is very low, with China already accounting for 46% of the world market and with only 6 EU projects currently active for aquatic biomass.

There are only 11 major desalination plants in the EU, mostly owned by large multi-sector companies.

Moreover, we should never neglect the coastal control of climate change, which can become a big global industry.

However, since the time of the report by the Club of Rome that, in 2009, invented the very concept of Blue Economy, his author, Pauli, has always stressed that the Blue Economy is part of the Green Economy – which is always a sustainable practice – and that it is based on new technologies.

 And here we revert immediately to China.

China has always been particularly interested in the Blue economy and in technological innovations, with the construction of marine areas of economic innovation. Just think about the Blue Economy Zone of the Shandong Peninsula, established in 2011, where, four years later, an integrated marine economic system began, which in 2020 is expected to become a great mechanism of ecological Blue economy with a high rate of innovative technology.

 In 2012, it was the turn of the Quingdao Blue Silicon Valley, a city for the new maritime scientific technologies.

Later China established other industrial areas for the protection of biodiversity and for new marine technologies, mainly in the Yangze River Delta.

 Since China’s 13th Five-Year Plan, the Blue Economy has been an ever-growing part of China’s GDP.

 Hence, from the Deep-Sea Dragon, a system for producing experimental deep-sea and surface platforms.

There are also the White Dragon’s explorations in the Arctic, albeit with a future research base in the Antarctica, and the Global Multidimensional Network for Ocean Observation, i.e. the network of stations that can be connected to all the scientific, climate, technological and energy observation stations that already operate in other parts of the two thirds of the Planet, namely those covered with water.

We should also recall the collection and processing of minerals extracted from the seabed.

In this case, the international regulations are already very detailed, but it is currently very hard to predict the aggregate effects, which are mutually reinforcing and with unpredictable percentages.

 Nor should we neglect the Great Lakes Observing System (GLOS), which is one of the 11 associations in the world that scientifically study the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS).

It initially regards the Great Lakes region between the USA and Canada, but it is also much studied in China.

 And the network of Chinese marine sensors will certainly be connected to the large areas of global verification and study.

Hence the problem will increasingly be to control both internal and external waters at the same time.

With specific reference to the Chinese political practice, the 2018 great reform of the State Council, which placed sustainable development at the core of China’s planning, was decisive.

 Since then, there has been a Minister for Natural Resources responsible for all land and sea natural areas, as well as for the economic use of land and for the protection and rehabilitation of the most endangered areas or of the already polluted ones.

While in almost all Western countries these powers and responsibilities are divided between various Ministries and Administrations, in China the already efficient chain of command is in the hands of a single political body and of a single Minister. The maximum efficiency for a chain of command.

 Moreover, China is currently going through a particular phase: from the fast and traditional development to an even faster one, albeit characterized by high environmental, social, ecological and technological quality.

 A new “development way”, which does not imitate Western traditions, but places science and technology into a new vertical and fast political system.

 In the Taoist philosophical tradition, to which Mao Zedong essentially belonged, quality and quantity are not always separated in reality and can be analysed, but only through multiple analogies.

Said analogies never stop and cannot be logically separated.

Still today, this is the basis of the political and economic action of the Chinese Party and State.

 Not an ordinary imitation of capitalism, but new and free efficiency of a technical-scientific network that is directed with market criteria of mutual interest, completely open to controls.

Hence development based on technology but, above all, on the protection of the environment and therefore of human and animal life, as well as of the life of the elements – and all at the same time.

Once again, the Taoist tradition.

Obviously the protection from pollution is central to the Chinese Blue Economy project. Just think about the project for the ecologization of the Bohai Sea, started in November 2018 –  a three-year plan that will lead to the stable cleaning of 73% of all the Bohai Sea coasts.

 Rapidity, efficiency and no operational difference between environmental recovery activities and actions to make income from the sea.

 In essence, China’s Blue System is divided into two sectors, albeit always interconnected: development of innovative scientific and technological products related to the sea economy, and later, during and after the process, the integrated protection of the environment.

 Again to compare China with the European Blue Economy policies, it should be recalled that the EU seas host about 48,000 different species, while the Chinese seas cover an area of approximately 6 million square kilometres, ranging from tropical to temperate climate and up to the Great Cold climate areas.

 There are as many as 32,000 kilometres of Chinese coastline, with 22,629 species belonging to 46 phyla.

 Data not comparable with those of the Mediterranean, but certainly able to permit, from the very beginning, large economies of scale.

In the EU the per capita yearly consumption of fish is 24 kilos, compared to 41 kilos in China.

  It should be reiterated that China has already reached the highest levels of ocean fishing, both in terms of volumes and technologies, outside and inside its territorial waters. Moreover, technologies and economic returns can be useful to everyone.

Worldwide, the actions known as Our Ocean, started by Secretary of State Kerry in 2014, have led in the West only to 36 marine actions to the tune of 550 million euros, and to other commitments, albeit not yet funded, resulting from the 2018 Bali Conference.

Only 64 million euros were allocated for the Mediterranean, and 37.5 million for the South African and Indian Ocean coasts.

Obviously this is positive, but it should be recalled that Chinese investment is already much higher and not only due to the very large size of China’s Blue Area.

Last year the Chinese ocean GDP grew by 6.7%, thus reaching 9.3% of China’s total GDP. In 2018, 17.2 billion yuan were invested in the production of offshore renewable energy.

Excellent data, but this is just the beginning.

An additional 5.5% has been recorded for Chinese maritime transport, while the average yield of traditional fishing is slightly declining. Maritime tourism has already grown by 8.3% in China.

 An excellent rate, not even comparable with the rate in the EU, where tourism is one of the fastest growing sector in the Euro-Mediterranean Blue Economy.

Furthermore, while – without any particular use of advanced technology -the Blue Economy in the EU is still largely a possibility, in China it is already a well-established reality.

 As the philosopher and sinologist Jullien would say, possibility and reality are the same image, albeit seen in two different ways, but not necessarily at two different moments.

Currently tourism accounts for 61% of jobs in the EU Blue Economy. As we can see, it is an old business with a low average return.

The EU aquaculture is still a small sector compared to China’s huge size and technology, even in proportion to the population, but all the sustainable ocean exploitation programmes in Europe are postponed to an indefinite future and are at risk of funding.

  Renewable marine energies will reach 10% of European consumption in 2050-a percentage which already pales into insignificance compared to the Chinese ones.

Apart from bureaucratic and administrative efficiency, with the Chinese Blue Economy we are already on another planet. The Chinese scientists are already thinking about a Blue Economy divided into three major areas: the resolution of water scarcity;the search for deep waters and the cleaning of surface waters.

 They are also thinking about technological innovation, which is scarcely pursued in the EU. China has already developed 100 projects, for 10 years, with 100 million new jobs. All these projects have already begun.

 Finally, in China there will be an integrated marine economy between research and the balanced exploitation of resources.

In particular, the development sectors that China currently likes are deep-sea aquaculture with the use of cages; ocean satellite communication, which is optimal; marine biomedicine; desalination with advanced technologies; the search for minerals in the seabed; offshore oil exploration; research into marine antiseptic and medical materials; the production of renewable energies at sea.

 It is in these areas that China’s greatest ten-year effort will develop.

 The management of the Chinese sea is based on a simple concept: the ecological absorption capacity of the seas.

Protection is based on the criterion of sustainable development, not on the circular economy with a zero return rate. Everything is designed to reduce environmental waste.

Moreover, sustainable development between land and sea -which is another specific issue for China – will be the development and not just the preservation and conservation of coasts.

 The primary concept for doing all these things together is Harmony, a Confucian criterion that relates Man to his Environment.

Hence coordinated development between economy and society.

This is the same deep criterion of the “Silk Road”: a harmonious, global and strategic project that works only with market rules and is connected to a win-win logic, which ensures benefits to everybody.

 According to the latest data available, in China the companies related to the Blue Economy have grown at a pace ranging from 14% to 4%.

 For the time being, the regions directly concerned are the following: Zhejang, which is responsible for implementing the “Maritime Strategy of the East Sea” and focuses on ports and island economies.

 Then there are Guangdong, which hosts the companies operating in the integrated management of the maritime economy; Fujian, where cooperation through the straits is pursued; Shandong, which develops the “Blue Economy Zone of the Peninsula” to create a primary gateway to North East Asia, and finally Tianjin, where high-level maritime technology is put into practice.

As early as 2001, 14.46 million people have already been employed in the Chinese Blue Economy, with a one million increase every year.

The cooperation with Western companies is already in place both at financial level, so as to share cutting-edge technologies, and for the participatory development of regions and companies.

Furthermore, the Chinese Smart Ocean programme also envisages a network of sensors on the coasts, at sea, in flight and in the space.

 All this is designed to build a complete real-time monitoring system of all China’s seas and rivers –  a network that should connect to the equivalent systems in other parts of the globe.

 A turtle strategy that, according to Chinese tradition, epitomizes the North and the Waters, but is also invulnerable, due to its powerful shell.

Advisory Board Co-chair Honoris Causa Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is an eminent Italian economist and businessman. He holds prestigious academic distinctions and national orders. Mr. Valori has lectured on international affairs and economics at the world’s leading universities such as Peking University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Yeshiva University in New York. He currently chairs “International World Group”, he is also the honorary president of Huawei Italy, economic adviser to the Chinese giant HNA Group. In 1992 he was appointed Officier de la Légion d’Honneur de la République Francaise, with this motivation: “A man who can see across borders to understand the world” and in 2002 he received the title “Honorable” of the Académie des Sciences de l’Institut de France. “

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Economy

Doing Business Report 2020: Soaring Changes with Soaring Doubts

Sisir Devkota

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As Narendra Modi brands his government of making new leaps; similarly, the World Bank’s annually published report, “Doing Business” has largely become a tool to evaluate economies. Both Mr. Modi and the institution have things in common. Upon his election in 2014, the Prime Minister made it clear that India was going to climb the rankings under the same report. This year’s report insists that many countries, including India, have made good leaps. Amidst such table success, there are many questions over the serviceability of the report itself. For a start: consider why the subtitle of Doing Business 2020 is “Comparing Business Regulation in 190 Economies”.

Nevertheless, many leaders like Mr. Modi are lurking towards performing the charts. Perhaps, a psychological competition engulfs bigger nations like India. Kosovo and Cyprus are ahead of Mr. Modi’s people in terms of the ease of doing business. Adding fuel to the insecurities, the report also highlights a fact-based decrease in the cost of starting new businesses in developing countries. Unquestionably, nation states are in a race. Whether investors investigate such results is an altogether different case.

One example is how the report has defined entrepreneurial ease to tackle obstacles. The 2020 report claims that more than fifty-five economies have eliminated the need to pay minimum capital amount to start a new business. Such rate of change will raise eyebrows; history suggests that often, openings like that are a result of financial desperation. Clearly, there is a lack of something in the stated fifty-five economies; investors will hope that it is not market demand. Retrospectively, besides how institutions like the World Bank or the charming speeches of leaders like Modi would imply otherwise; investors will be careful of such data. After all, there is a huge difference between an easy business environment without any scope and a conducive environment with healthy competition. Because the report also suggests that many nations instead reduced the cost of capital launch; economists will be doubtful in even trying to handle such information. It will be left to seen whether the report will also affect the nature of successful markets and goods.

Similarly, 40% of low and middle-income nations now prohibit the use of fixed-term contracts for permanent jobs. The staggering changes this year is a news that is too good to be true. Assumedly, as the report claims, if there are more nations relaxing business operations with such contract policies, investors will be smelling early blood. If anything, a logical analysis only implies that there is wishful thinking in the academics of the report to transfer wealth into hungry mouths. Pragmatically, the huge numbers do not present opportunities. Instead, it is calling for a discomforting nature of risk in many countries.

For some amount of comforting information, the 2020 Doing Business report, maintains ease of government contractas an indicator of looking at the bigger picture. As much as the knowledge of how long it would take to acquire government contracts in Chile would be useful for aspiring Chinese companies; it misses the main point. How would investors weigh their decisions in nations with contradictory results along different indicators? The lack of comprehending such result for economic decisions, is a liability than a tool. New Zealand has been a consistent performer for years, and, for 2020, it is also ranked as the best place on earth for doing business. Somalia, on the other hand totters at the end. It has been tottering for many years now. A strange movement of middle rankers become sensational news. Like Mr. Modi, many leaders are not looking to upset high ranking nations, instead, in the most explicit form of political accomplishment, lies the aimless ambition. Narendra Modi will be most excited, he knows that another addition of electrical grids in rural India will soar the rankings again, next year.

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Economy

BRICS acts as a collective will to safeguard global multilateralism

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Authors: Zhou Dong chen &Francis Kwesi Kyirewiah*

On November 13-14, the 11th BRICS Summit was held in Brasilia, capital of Brazil, where Chinese President Xi Jinping alongside the leaders of Russia, India, South Africa and the host country—Brazil—met and discussed the issues of global and regional dimensions. According to the data in 2018, the BRICS member states have already accounted for 23.6% of the world economy (GDP) and nearly 20% of all world trade, in addition to contributing more than half of all global economic growth. Now, as it enters the second decade of cooperation, BRICS aims to enhance intra-bloc cooperation covering all economic, political and security cooperation as well as cultural and people-to-people exchanges. Can the BRICS members stand together in international affairs?

The concept of the “BRIC” came to the limelight in 2001. Since then, it is argued that the relative size and share of those countries in the world economy has risen exponentially, and most likely it would gradually imply that the G7’s economic hegemony would be rearranged. Scholars like Dominic Wilson further echoed this in his study on “Dreaming with BRICS: The Path to 2050”. He put it that, in all likelihood, by 2025 the BRICS could account for over half of the size of the G7 in terms of GDP. And in less than 40 years the BRICS’ economies together could be larger than the G7.

Although it was debatable, the key assumption behind all the discourse is that China and India have risen as the world’s principal suppliers of manufactured goods and services, while Brazil and Russia are already becoming equally dominant as suppliers of raw materials.In addition, what the BRICS have in common is that they all have an enormous potential consumer market, complemented by access to regional markets and to a large labor force. Wilson argues that three key issues the BRICs have to embrace for their partnership development are as follows: Inclusive growth, sustainable solutions and foreign policy consultations in the post-Western world. Echoing his discourse, Andrew Hurrell put it, “since all the BRICS nations are now members of the G20 which is a major symbol of the structure of global governance, the bargaining power of the BRICS vis-à-vis US-dominated global institutions is inevitably growing.”

It is quite coincident that during the 2017 G20 Summit in Germany, the leaders of the BRICS held an informal meeting reaching key agreements on building an open world economy and improving global economic governance. On the occasion, Chinese leader called on that the BRICS itself would establish an open economy, maintain a multilateral trade system and advance inclusive, balanced and win-win economic globalization with a view to making the fruits of economic growth accessible for all people. There is no doubt that the BRICS countries also have their own internal challenges and external divergences on many issues. Yet, the central point of the role of the BRICS in global affairs is not where the world order is now, but where it will be in the near future, say by 2050.Building on the common sense that “a shared voice is stronger than a single shout”, the emerging powers are well-aware of the closer cooperation among them and even beyond in order to push forward their own agenda.

Yet,  no matter which theory, realism or constructivism, is used to assess the BRICS, it is unlikely the bloc having moved to a geopolitical organization like NATO, but only a new-typed geo-economic forum that incorporates a strong component of people-to-people relations between institutions and individuals. Two of its main goals are as follows: to bring people closer together through socio-economic means, and to take a constructive part in settling geopolitical flashpoints. As such, the BRICs is generally regarded inclusive and its members are willing to cooperate with other countries or institutions that share their interest in making the world a fairer, and therefore a better place. In line with this spirit, the BRICS, though a grouping of five major emerging national economies, aims from its inception to establish an equitable, democratic and multilateralism-based world order.

If the first decade of the BRICS has formalized its existence and also represented many opportunities for the 21st century, the key concern remains how to turn the bloc into a functional grouping rather than just a global forum in the next decade. Strategically, it is vital for the BRICS to become a knowledge base for other developing countries, such as the areas of solar energy, ethanol products, urban landscape development, slum alleviation and biotechnology use, and share their best practices with southern countries. To that end, it is essential for the BRICS to act and talk differently from the G7 and other Western institutions, which are deemed to retain economic hegemony over the vast developing areas. Put it more bluntly, the BRICS should be committed to multilateralism, human development and social welfare in accordance with UN charters and the relevant resolutions.

Given this, looking ahead into the next decade, the BRICS is supposed to follow this line as proposed by Xi when he addressed the current global challenges such as unilateralism and protectionism, and he called on BRICS countries to champion and practice multilateralism. Thus he put three-point suggestions as follows: first, he urged the five members to safeguard peace and development for all, uphold fairness and justice and promote win-win results. Globally, it is vital for the BRICS to uphold the purposes and principles of the UN Charter and the UN-centered international system, which rejects any sort of hegemonic order and power politics and take a constructive part in settling geopolitical issues.

Second, the BRICS en bloc should pursue greater development prospects through openness and innovation. Therefore, it should uphold the WTO-centered multilateral trading system and increase the voice and influence of emerging markets and developing countries in international affairs. In addition, BRICS member states should prioritize development in the global macro policy framework, follow through the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on climate change. All in all, the BRICS makes all efforts to promote coordinated progress in the economic, social and environmental spheres. Third, in a long run, the BRICS needs to be more proactive in promoting mutual learning through people-to-people exchanges and take their people-to-people exchanges to greater breadth and depth. Xi did indeed appeal to other four partners that “BRICS Plus” should serve as a platform to increase dialogue with other countries and civilizations to win BRICS more friends and partners.

This is a truly strategic proposal. People agree that the next decade will see accelerating change in global patterns of economic growth, development, and governance. The BRICS can achieve a second golden decade if they can remain united and work together in the face of the challenges and opportunities to come. Although all BRICS members have no intention to challenge the status quo which is still dominated by the U.S.-led globalization system, the first decade of self-discovery of the BRICS has paved the way for the second decade of confident outreaches to other countries and institutions and will predictably see the new bloc becoming a powerful global platform for change by 2029.

In summary, the huge potentials of the BRICS are far beyond the current five powers. In effect, Valdai Club, a Russia’s top think tank, once put it, the BRICS starts by bringing together the regional integration groups that each country is a part of (e.g. Russia, the Eurasian Economic Union, Brazil and Mercosur) through the BRICS+ framework in order to broaden its reach in the most realistic way possible without overextending itself. In view of its one-decade vicissitude, it can say that this visionary outlook is definitely doable since all the BRICS members certainly have the political will to pull it off, plus their combined economic power is attractive enough to naturally make their counterparts interested in cooperating. The BRICS could therefore transform into the core of a larger global reform structure bringing together non-Western countries and even those within the West that are dissatisfied with the U.S.-led status quo, which would then enable it to truly become a global force capable of carrying out meaningful development governance. It has actually exercised a positive impact on each of its five members, so it’s time to spread the benefits beyond the original five. Considering the second decade of its development, the BRICS would aim to make further reform in terms of the fairer governance.

*Francis Kwesi Kyirewiah, a PhD student in International Affairs, at SIPA, Jilin University, China.

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Economy

CHETRA Eyes Africa for Expansion

Kester Kenn Klomegah

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CHETRA is a Russian company that sells industrial equipment and spare parts under the brand “CHETRA” produced by the Promtractor plant, as well as supplies spare parts and components from the company. It uses a unique technique in the construction of production sites, seaports, development of natural resources and pipelines in 30 countries and in all climatic zones.

The goal is to provide its partners and customers with modern high-performance equipment for successful projects, even in areas with complex climatic and geological backgrounds. More than 3,000 units of equipment under the brand “CHETRA” are now in operation in the Russian Federation and beyond.

Executive Director Vladimir Antonov has been working in engineering industry for 19 years. He has successful experience in product export to the CIS countries and Ukraine, the Baltic States, Europe, Argentina, Africa and Cuba. He has been leading company as its Executive Director since 2018. During his leadership, the share of the company’s machinery in the Russian market has doubled.

In this snapshot interview, Vladimir Antonov talks about his company’s plans in the direction of Africa. Here are the interview excerpts:

Q:First, tell us briefly about tPlants previous working connection with Africa? What are your products and services, what African regions or countries are keen using products?

A:Our company has a long experience of cooperation with African countries which began in the Soviet times and continues today. Traditionally we collaborate in the African continent with such partner countries of Russia as Egypt, Algeria, Zimbabwe. About 50 units of CHETRA machines have been supplied to these countries over the last ten years. Our goal is to enlarge our footprint in the African continent. Nowadays, we are negotiating cooperation with potential partners in West Africa and the SADC region (Southern African Development Community, South Africa).

Q:Compared to other foreign players, how competitive is the African market? From the previous experience in the African regions, what key problems and challenges the company faces in Africa?

A:Today the market of mining and construction equipment in Africa is characterized by high competition, all our competitors work in the region, both from the West and from the East. This has led to the fact that the market applies high requirements to new products. For that reason today we do not just sell our machines to customers: we offer a range of services, which includes commissioning of the machines, training of local staff, organization of after-sales maintenance service at the customer’s site. The main challenge for us today when working in Africa is the need to find a local partner who has qualified staff, equipment, maintenance facilities and not bound by contracts with other manufacturers of similar machines.

Q:What kind of business perceptions and approach could be considered as impediments or stumbling blocks to business between Russia and Africa?

A:Another challenge for us when working in Africa is that many consumers have no free funds to purchase new machines. This often diverts our partner from the renewal of the fleet or makes them buy used machines on the after-market. We are trying to solve this problem by attracting Russian government agencies of export support, such as the Russian Export Center, in order to finance transactions. 

Q:Business needs vital information, knowledge about the investment climate and so forth. Do you think that there has been an information vacuum or gap between the two regions?

A:Taking into account the level of development of information technology today there are no particular problems in obtaining information about the investment level of any country or about business situation of a particular company. Besides that, we are in constant contact with Trade missions at the Embassies of the Russian Federation in the countries of our interest, which are also a good source of information about the conditions of the market.

Q:And now how would you envisage the level of investment and business engagement with Africa? Is Sochi an opportunity for expanding business to Africa?

A:In my opinion the Economic Forum in Sochi was organized at the highest level. A lot of guests from Africa visited it. We held a number of meetings with companies that are new to us, and I hope that these will lead to long-term cooperation and geographic growth of supplies of CHETRA machines in Africa.

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