The session “Bonds as a Means of Attracting Finance” focused on the gradual development of the market of bonds, which are becoming an alternative instrument to attracting long-term finances for big enterprises and companies. Meanwhile it was noted that the number of investors interested in putting funds in local enterprises via bond instruments is on the rise, including those in the Far East. However, so far the cost of bond issuances is too high for Far Eastern companies, whereas there are few issuers in the region that could attract the interest of big investors. In order to expand the use of bond instruments the participants of the discussion also noted the need to standardize requirements for them, which is hoped to slash the price of the ‘entrance ticket’. It was also proposed to place bonds on the same footing with loans with a provision of subsidies for issuers.
The participants of the “Sea Ports: In Good Hands” session noted a rise in cargo turnover in the region, while a huge potential for further growth remains. Investments are needed, though investors are afraid of taking decisions due to uncertain rules and terms of cooperation between investors and state regulators. A separate issue is the compliance of the state with its commitments. All this comes amid the lack of a clear state support program, which is necessary. The competition between Russian ports is also an issue, whereas some of them are underloaded. It is necessary to modernize ports in the Far East Federal District, simultaneously developing industry in the region, manufacturing in the first place. It is also necessary to develop a system of providing subsidies and a mechanism of infrastructure mortgage.
Participants in the roundtable discussion "Russia-China" stated that cooperation between the countries is on the rise. It's even possible to talk about the beginning of a new phase of Russian-Chinese relations. Nevertheless, speakers pointed out a number of problems. For example, when it comes to medium-sized businesses working outside of energy sectors, there is the problem of a lack of mutual trust connected with differences in entrepreneurial traditions. Trade barriers also remain on both sides, but governmental bodies are working too slowly to break them down. During the discussion, it was suggested that more attention be paid to creating joint logistics corridors, but that would require guarantees from the governments of both countries. Trust can be enhanced through the mechanism of transborder cooperation. Chinese participants advised their Russian colleagues to situate transportation corridors next to regions with technical and economic development.
Both parties confirmed in the course of “Russia–Japan” business dialogue that trade and economic relations between the two countries ultimately acquired positive dynamics. Representatives from the Russian government stated the key to that was the decision not to link business cooperation to political relations between the two states. Representatives from Japan’s business community highly valued the conditions for doing business set forth by Russia in the Far East. Among the challenges highlighted was that mutual trade figures still remained at a low level and that the bulk of sealed agreements transformed into letters of intent. The discussion’s participants see potential for further development in strengthening interaction at the small and medium enterprise levels, and cited the already concluded investment deals as an example.
During the business dialogue “Russia–Republic of Korea”, participants agreed that the potential for cooperation between the two countries is still not being used as much as it could be. For example, the trade turnover between Russia and Korea in recent times has decreased even more than it has for countries participating in sanctions against Russia. Korea has not supported these sanctions. But both sides said that decisions have been made that will dramatically change the situation. For example, the heads of both countries have a strong mutual understanding when it comes to a peaceful solution of the North Korean nuclear problem. A special committee for trade with northern countries has already been created by the new Korean president and the Far East is waiting for Korean entrepreneurs. When it comes to joint business projects, difficulties faced are the traditional ones - bureaucratic barriers, lack of information, and contradictions of interests for various companies.
The participants of the “Far Eastern Hectare: Initial Experiences” session concluded that the ‘Far Eastern Hectare’ program is being carried out successfully on the whole – the area of offered land plots has increased seven-fold, the procedure of application and decision-making has seriously simplified, and special credit programs have been created for the ‘Hectare’ recipients. Meanwhile, it was noted that the implementation of the program has highlighted the problem of poor map coverage of the Far Eastern regions, which makes it challenging to determine the borders of the land plots. Also, the participants of the meeting noted the position of the Russian Defense Ministry, which has been closing off parts of the Far Eastern territory without any reasonable justification. In this respect, it was proposed to hold an inventory of the Defense Ministry’s lands, as well as to intensify efforts to improve the map coverage of the region.
The session “Culture and Art. What Will Be Done?” was devoted to culture as an integral part of the economy. It improves the quality of life, spurs the population growth and even enhances the region’s investment attractiveness. Cultural projects in the Far East cannot compete with federal ones due to insufficient funding, and in order to resolve the issue it was proposed for the state to participate in co-financing of this area in the region and develop a mechanism of providing grants for cultural events in the Far Eastern Federal District. Also, the formation of new cultural events in the region was discussed.
At the session "Russky Island: The Onset of Creating a New Centre for International Cooperation and Cutting-Edge Technologies in the Asia-Pacific Region" Nobel Prize Laureate and Presidential Advisor at the Far Eastern Federal University Riccardo Valentini, who was a keynote speaker, spoke about the importance of the Industry 4.0 concept for further development of humanity as well as plans to create a university center on Russky Island with activities focused on developing technologies for a new "green" economy. Discussion participants also noted that at the moment the creation of a science city on Russky Island is inhibited by investment risks in Primorye along with the shortage of human capital. Optimal solutions for developing the innovative potential of Russky Island given were creating infrastructure to attract investors in technology, expanding scientific cooperation with foreign partners, namely with Japan, in the areas of nuclear medicine and energy.
At the roundtable discussion "Smart Energy: Balancing Demand with Capacity. New Projects" it was noted that optimization of energy consumption is taking place nowadays. New projects are expected to become self-sufficient, and new storage methods could lead to a revolution in the energy sector. But energy, being a high-tech sector, is associated with a growing risk of cyber threats. Additionally, long investment cycles mean than any mistake with energy can be critical. Participants also stressed that developing renewable energy in the Far Eastern Federal District is being held back by the lack of a wholesale energy market. In order to solve that problem, it has been proposed to introduce new technologies to increase production transparency, improve the skills of workers in the industry, and also attract support from the state.
At the Eastern Economic Forum session "Agricultural Investment. Feeding the Asia-Pacific Region" data was presented that showed how the Far East has virtually unlimited opportunities when it comes to increasing agricultural exports to the markets of China, Japan, and South Korea. At the same time, demand for food products in the Asia-Pacific Region is only expected to grow. Panel participants believe that it is possible to develop any kind of agricultural production in the Far East region. Meanwhile, the Far East currently does not even produce enough food for its own use. But investment projects that deal with processing raw agricultural materials, many of which have obtained support from the state, are increasing every year. A number of facilities have opened right ahead of the Eastern Economic Forum. Looking ahead short term, we can see the creation of the Primorsky agrohub which will become one of the biggest points of transshipment for grain in the Asia-Pacific Region.