On the 9th July 2014, the INNOPROM Industrial Trade Fair in Ekaterinburg played host to a Round Table Discussion entitled “Import Substitution – New Opportunities for Russian Manufactures”.
The topic of import substitution acquired particularly lively topicality amongst the speakers against the background of the recent economic sanctions applied against Russia by a USA & Eu coalition, in reaction to the recent hostilities launched by Ukraine.
The Moderator of the Round Table was Valery Fadeyev, the General Director of the 'Expert” Media Group. The members of the panel for the event were as follows: Gleb Nikitin , First Deputy Minister for Trade & Industry of the Russian Federation; Alexey Rakhmanov , President of the United Shipbuilding Corporation ; Alexander Mikheyev , General Director of " Russian Helicopters PLC"; Oleg Sienko , General Director of " Urals Wagon Plant"; Alexander Sultaev , Director General of "Urals Locomotives "; Victor Bespalov , CEO of Siemens PLM Software; Jean-Louis Stasie , President of Schneider Electric Russia; Peter Vullings , CEO Philips Russia & CIS; Alex Rodzyanko , president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia ; and Sergey Chernyshev , Director of ANO " Russian Institute" , a member of the Public Council within the Ministry of Trade & Industry of the Russian Federation.
Alexander Sultaev , Director General of "Urals Locomotives, " said that one of the main ideas of the round table should be that Russia must not only build a system of import substitution - Russia should simultaneously establish its own competitive manufacturing to offer to the world market. All the round table delegates agreed that in the long term, Russia must seek to export - and build a business strategy which focuses on the needs of both domestic and foreign companies and consumers.
Viktor Bespalov, the General Director of Siemens PLM Software Systems underscored the fact that the policy of just blindly accepting imports – to his mind – was slamming the brakes on Russian industry and the economy as a whole. “When this question of localization was mentioned at Urals Locomotives, they insisted on their right that a system of open competitiveness would be used in obtaining contracts. What is needed is not just import substitution, but a policy of economic expediency”.
Mr Jean-Louis Stasie, the President of Schneider Electric, mentioned in his address that foreign companies have a strong interest in working with Russian domestic suppliers. To encourage this, companies need to expand their training schemes for locally based workforces, and invest more of their resources in regional Russian production.
The very pressing matter of the economic sanctions which are being forced upon Russia personally touched the President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, Mr Alex Rodzyanko, He expressed the opinion that Russia and America had already built very close economic contacts, and these could not be broken so easily.