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Medvedev: Special economic zone should be created in Crimea

MOSCOW, March 24. /ITAR-TASS/.  Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev considers it necessary to create a special economic zone in Crimea. 

“Settling the current problems, we should also think of the long-term development prospects for Crimea. We’ll have to give additional preferences to Russia’s new regions. I also believe it is necessary to consider the issue of the creation of a special economic zone in Crimea,” Medvedev said at a special meeting on the socio-economic support of the Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol.

Ideas to create a special economic zone in Crimea are subject to negotiation, but there are no specific proposals yet, Andrey Sokolov, the head of the Department for Regional Economic Development Projects of the Russian Economic Development Ministry, told journalists on Monday.

“At this point we have not gone much farther than speculations about ‘a special economic zone in Crimea’ yet. These ideas are still under negotiation,” he told Itar-Tass.

Last week, the national business association Delovaya Rossiya said it was necessary to create a special economic zone in Crimea. The organisation, representing the interests of Russia's small and medium entrepreneurs, should be the first of four Russian biggest entrepreneurial unions to establish a special working group on cooperation between Crimea’s authorities and business leaders.

Delovaya Rossiya has opened a regional branch in Crimea to attract business representatives from two newly-adopted Russian regions - the Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol. There are plans to implement a number of large-scale investment projects aimed to develop the service industry, infrastructure and farming.

Andrey Nazarov, the co-chairman of Delovaya Rossiya, said the organization would present an economic development programme to the Crimean authorities and the business community, providing a set of preferences to local companies. He said it was also possible that a free trade zone and tax holidays would be introduced in Crimea during the transitional period.

“Among other things, we will provide Crimea’s authorities and business people with a team to finalise the programme that we deem necessary for implementation during the transition period of Crimea’s economy. We should grant the largest possible preferences to Crimean businesses,” Nazarov said, adding that the programme might already be presented at a big forum of Delovaya Rossiya in Crimea scheduled for June, 2014.

The Russian business daily Vedomosti announced on Monday that Crimea’s special economic zone might look very much like the one in Russia's westernmost Kaliningrad region. As in the case with Kaliningrad, a separate law would be needed to offer tax benefits to all major investors who are ready to heavily invest in the region, the daily said.