The deputy governor of the Moscow Region, Vadim Jromov, said yesterday, in exclusive statements to The Diplomat, that there are several areas of cooperation between Russia and Spain “very broadly favorable to both” and said that Spanish investors in his province are fully guaranteed their rights despite European sanctions to Russia for its role in the crisis in Ukraine.
Jormov and the Deputy Minister of Investment and Innovation of the Government of the Moscow Region, Antón Loguinov, visited the CEOE headquarters in Madrid yesterday to present the business opportunities offered for Spanish companies and to hold individual meetings with representatives of Spanish companies.
Prior to this meeting, the Russian representatives held a meeting with businessmen in which the president of the international CEOE, Marta Blanco, stated that “Russia is a priority country” both for the Government and for Spanish companies and the Minister Counsellor of the Russian Embassy, Dimitry Sokolov, declared that the Moscow Region is “one of the most powerful provinces in Russia” and has launched several initiatives to stimulate direct foreign investment, such as “special economic zones in which foreign investors have the same rights as nationals”.
The Diplomat: What added value can Spanish companies bring to the Moscow Region?
Vadim Jromov: Currently there are many Spanish capital companies working in the Moscow Region and, despite the political difficulties, not only have they not gone away but they continue to expand their business year after year. Apart from that, the global market landscape has changed and companies have to expand their areas of operation to other areas. For example, Mercedes Benz was introduced this year in the Moscow Region, but no accessories are produced and there are not enough spare parts for these cars. On the other hand, in the Community of Madrid there are several industrial clusters in which they are produced, so cooperation in this type of industry can be extremely important.
Another interesting sector is pharmaceutical production. Moscow, traditionally, is a leading producer that generates a quarter of the pharmaceutical production of the whole country, but the rest of the world, and Spain in particular, produce much more and for our inhabitants to have access to the new medicines in the market it would be interesting for the Spanish pharmaceutical companies to establish themselves in the Russian market, with their productive capacity.
Of course, food is a sector that is growing throughout Russia and the Moscow Region and there we have a good example of positive cooperation with Spanish companies. There is a consumer market in the centre of Russia of 80 million people and this, together with the possibility of sending goods by rail in a short time to the Far East and China, increases the possibilities and the capacity to expand our markets. The Moscow Region can be a gateway for Spanish products to China. Therefore, we see several possible areas of cooperation between Russia and Spain very broadly favorable to both.
TD: Have you achieved concrete results during your meetings with Spanish businessmen in Madrid?
VJ: Yes, we just had a meeting with a car parts manufacturer who is seriously considering setting up in Russia. We have also perceived interest in the pharmaceutical field and there has been another meeting with a building materials products company, a sector in which we have been collaborating for some time with Spanish companies, such as URSA, installed in the Rostov Region since 2000.
TD: Do Spanish infrastructure companies also have possibilities in Russia?
VJ: Of course. We have large motorway or housing modernization projects and we are willing to welcome Spanish companies that want to participate in projects in the vicinity of our territory, such as the light rail construction project, which links the urbanizations around Moscow. Anyway, today (yesterday) we have not met with this type of companies, but there is a lot of interest.
TD: In June the EU renewed the sanctions against Russia and the current Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs and future head of European diplomacy, Josep Borrell, is in favour of their being maintained. How can this affect your attempt to attract Spanish companies?
VJ: From the point of view of economic development, we are partners of all the companies that agree to work in the region and we will support their business projects. We don’t divide investors between Russians and foreigners, they are investors, period. What we do is build responsible and mutually beneficial corporate relationships between companies and authorities and I can assure you that Spanish investors in our territory will never see their rights eroded and will receive all the necessary support. With regard to the influence of trade sanctions, European politicians are, of course, entitled to take these decisions, but we consider that the business world has nothing to do with sanctions and we will continue to support friendly relations between Spain and Russia, which are already hundreds of years old and are not going to be changed by particular decisions taken at any given time, although, of course, we hope that Europeans will change these decisions.
TD: How are economic relations with Spain compared to other European countries?
VJ: Our relations with Spain are likely to expand. We have more cooperative relations with Italy, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic and a very powerful activity with France. The reception we have had today (yesterday) indicates that we have paid insufficient attention to this relationship with a friendly country like Spain.