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Effective import substitution may take up to seven years — Kremlin chief of staff

October 19, 2015, 10:44 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Although there may be economic sectors where meeting far tighter deadlines may be possible, for instance, the military-industrial complex, Sergey Ivanov says
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Sergey Ivanov, the chief of Russia’s presidential staff

Sergey Ivanov, the chief of Russia’s presidential staff

© Alexei Nikolsky/Russian presidential press service/TASS

MOSCOW, October 19. /TASS/. The Russian industry may need five or seven years for overall import substitution, Sergey Ivanov, the chief of Russia’s presidential staff, said in an exclusive interview with TASS.

"The task of global and effective substitution for certain products that are being imported from other countries can be accomplished in 5-7 years' time at the earliest" Ivanov said.

"Although there may be economic sectors where meeting far tighter deadlines may be possible," he said. "For instance, the military-industrial complex. A great deal has been done there along these lines already, believe me."

"Incidentally, it is Ukraine that has been the hardest-hit as a result. I am saying so in all seriousness, without a shade of irony. Our neighbors have lost their space rocket industry and aircraft and shipbuilding as well," Ivanov said.

"True, they have risen to number one place in the world as the exporter of … sunflower seeds. I learned that from a piece authored by one of your fellow journalists," he added.

"In agriculture the changes are not so significant as they have been in the defense industry, although products from domestic manufactures are already taking far more space on the shelves of our supermarkets these days. Far more than just a couple of years ago," Ivanov said.

He said that the situation cannot be improved overnight.

"But, as you understand, we've got accustomed to rely on imports and made no good cheeses of our own for a hundred years or so. So it would be naive to think that good cheese will suddenly emerge out of nowhere. It never happens," Ivanov said.

"But apart from cheese there are poultry, pork and vegetables. We've managed to meet the entire domestic market demand. That's a real chance for our farm producers," he added.

"We've got to take advantage of the situation and to build up production. There are such plans at the federal level and in many regions, where the climate is favorable for farming. The plan will take time to materialize, or course, but some positive results are already well in sight," Ivanov said.

Striving for total import substitution would be ridiculous

Striving for total import substitution is no goal of Russia as it would be ridiculous, Sergey Ivanov, the chief of Russia’s presidential staff, said in an exclusive interview with TASS.

"Total import substitution is no goal of ours," Ivanov said. "We have no intention of screening ourselves from the outside world. It would've been ridiculous, if we'd had such plans."

"Those who are discussing sanctions these days for some reason quickly shift to the theme of Russia's international isolation. What do they really mean? The world is not confined to Western Europe, the United States, Canada and some other states," he said. The other countries and regions are not closed to us. Asia, Africa and Latin America… They are open to holidaymakers and to trade as before."

"We will keep developing normally, stay in touch with each other, and, if need be, find alternatives to products we are still unable to produce ourselves," Ivanov said. "But spending hard currency on pampers, the way we did just recently, is hardly reasonable today. That's not a precision instrument for a space rocket. I believe that launching the production of such consumer goods in Russia will be no problem."

"We don't need an illusion of the process. We don't need box-ticking, to put it bluntly: no situations where a newly-made commodity proves by far inferior to foreign counterparts," he added.

"Moreover, in the global economy hardly any producer manufactures products meant for the domestic market only. If something is to be manufactured, then only with a view to exporting the item. Otherwise it will just make no sense," Ivanov said.

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