Expert Realnoe Vremya – on Western sanctions, import substitution and the future of Russia
The task of import substitution was set after 2014, now we need a “debriefing”, says Sergey Sotnikov, a transport expert with 20 years of experience, chairman of the freight transport and logistics committee of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic. from Tatarstan. According to him, it is time for Russians to abandon the “position of dependency” and take matters of economic well-being and food security of the country into their own hands. In the author’s column for Realnoe Vremya, the expert tells readers about the illusory hopes for a lifting of sanctions, the need to strengthen work on import substitution and the revival of production at any cost.
“There is a real economic war going on: arm wrestling”
It is time to understand that war has been declared on us. There is now a real economic war going on: a showdown. Sanctions under various pretexts were introduced a long time ago, and today’s ones were prepared in advance. It is therefore no longer so much an economic war: the question of the preservation of the state is on the agenda. You cannot sit and do nothing.
The worst thing that can happen is to live with outstretched hands. It’s a dependent position: “Let’s ask them nicely, give in, and they’ll give us something, open European markets.” It is a humiliating position. We tried that for so many years: we used diplomatic language, expressed concerns. Quite simply because we were hoping for common sense, that we would be heard. And they stretched so much that the hot phase began.
“Guys with great records have proven they can’t do anything”
The import substitution task was set after 2014. Now we need a “debrief”. And the decisions must be hard: we live in times of war. If one fails, patting on the back and saying, “Come on, try again” — there should be no such thing. The people who were responsible for it and did nothing for so many years or indulged in the appearance of work, in my opinion, should make room for those who are now ready to show their professional qualities .
The guys with the nice cards, who only know how to make presentations, reassure themselves with foreign economic terms, have proven that they can’t do anything about it. They should go. We must attract practitioners, those who have shown real results by their example. And it is very important not to fall into verbiage about “helping” businesses.
People need benchmarks. Tiktokers, bloggers, tattooed rappers are those who appear today as heroes. It made everyone so sick. What else needs to happen for us to finally come to our senses? Let’s show those who have built their business from scratch, those who have succeeded in their profession, those who honestly serve the country and its people.
Personally, I resent the expression that Russia is a developing country. We have so many resources, so many minerals, so many talented people, so many competent specialists! Think back to the 1930s. It was a really tough time of hunger. The people were illiterate, 80 percent were peasants. But they invited specialists, trained people who went to work in factories. They built 10,000 businesses, some of which are still operating. Fifteen years after the war, they have already flown into space.
Why can’t we take advantage of the positive experience that has allowed our country to leap forward and reformat it today? Because we were taught that everything is terrible in the USSR. It was inspired by those who fabricate another fake and impose suffocating penalties on us. It is necessary to distinguish the lie from the truth.
“Are we really not capable of producing our own engines?
We have been saying for years that dependence on foreign suppliers is bad! Our KAMAZ has been made dependent on imports. So what’s good about that? Truck prices have tripled in the past 6 years. “Russian” buses have also increased in price. Then people are surprised at the price. It’s a whole industry controlled by departments. They haven’t seen it? You couldn’t predict what this would lead to?
We have become dependent: we are at the mercy of foreign manufacturers. We have to get out of this addiction. Aren’t we really capable of producing our own motors, brake pads, shock absorbers? How is it supernatural? Where are our designers, engineers?
Or now everyone talks about planes: “Oh, we don’t have our own planes, they provide us with spare parts.” The same situation is in the automotive industry. I am in favor of doing something. If we cannot do it ourselves, we must attract and train specialists. We had everything! Maybe at first it will be a little less good in quality, but at least we will try to produce our own.
Maybe we should start producing a Russian people’s car. Why not? Now it is simply unrealistic to buy a cheap car. How should retirees get to their dachas? Even if you start to produce the likeness of Oka again, but such an “iron horse” will not cost 1-1.5 million rubles, but, for example, 300 thousand and will be available to people. And there will be a demand for such cars and new jobs. We can attract young enthusiasts, they will make it sympathetic. Remember how Koreans and Chinese started in the automotive industry. Their first cars were terrible, but then they got better.
The question is about responsibility for the result. My position is that either we start to make our country a truly independent, high-tech country, or we will succumb to being a “developing” country.
“The banks have monopolized the market”
Last year, our banks received 2.4 trillion rubles in profits. And this profit increases from year to year. The banking sector has started accumulating huge funds from the real sector. As a result, credit institutions have the ability to move into other areas where they can earn. They monopolize the market. The manufacturing sector is on the margins and extremely dependent on banks.
The introduction of project financing in the construction sector has actually become an impetus to increase the cost of housing construction. In other words, the banking sector, in fact, took over any direction. Wherever we go, we depend on banks everywhere. It is a pernicious situation.
If we want to start some kind of production, expediency and the development of the country must be put first. Meanwhile, in any project, whether public or not, there is a bank. Look at the profit they get at the end! At the construction stage, before the launch and then how many years this production has been working for the bank. But what does this credit institution do to make this or that factory work? Maybe he is studying the market, training specialists, working with people, risking something? No, they strictly control the receipt of funds and the availability of guarantees. And at any convenient time, they have the option to withdraw that business.
Banks have always been a service industry. Their job was to transfer money, track payments. But now they are the masters. They are no longer banks, but financial monsters. I know people who received loans and then had to work for these financial structures for many, many years. Now, opening some kind of production, an entrepreneur understands that he will depend on banks for 10 years. Any careless action and they will take this case away.
And we had such a thing in the field of freight transport: entrepreneurs took rented cars, and then they were taken from them. People hoped to expand their business, but found themselves with nothing. Those who have been in business for a long time simply have nowhere to go, so they have to go about their business. Young people, watching how parents suffer, how they tremble before another loan: they doubt that the money will be enough, they do not want to become entrepreneurs. The younger generation is running anywhere just to make easy money. Hence such a shortage of young personnel in the production sector.
“Companies need clear guidelines”
Until domestic production is established, we will have no development. Therefore, the key issue for businesses is not support at all. Companies need clear guidelines: in which direction are we going, what will be the new rules of the game. One step forward, two steps back is useless. We need a clear understanding of how and at what expense the economy will develop. So that a lively dialogue with companies is established and that their aspirations are heard.
We shouldn’t sit around and wait for everything to calm down. Some kind of movement is needed. To avoid the following: foreign companies leave our market and we sit in mourning: “What to do? If hostile countries announce sanctions against us, they are no longer partners. We should then close the market to them and redirect ourselves.
Foreign companies have left, others will come in their place. Under no circumstances should they be let in easily. If they want to come back, let them cover all the costs first and ask us well, and we will still consider whether to meet them halfway, whether they will not create unfair competition.
If a niche is vacant, it is necessary to replace it with domestic manufacturers. We have to initiate something in Russia: yes, at least to build a second main Baikal-Amur line. The main thing is that it is some kind of good goal for the country. Or let’s start to build our own factory for the production of toothbrushes. At least it will be understood that we are engaged in practical matters. And we do it for the country, not for show. It is not some kind of nanotechnology, which cost several billions and cannot be seen or felt.
Today, we urgently need to bring together a new team of professionals, analysts. We must form a new model of the country’s development. The goal we will strive to achieve. And above all, we must not deviate from the plan, otherwise we will collapse, as the USSR once did. There is no other way.
The author’s opinion may not coincide with the position of the editorial board of Realnoe Vremya.