The ruble devaluation and reduction of the share of imported products give Russian producers the opportunity to fill the niche in the Russian market and expand their presence abroad. Andrei Razbrodin, President of the Russian Union of Entrepreneurs of Textile and Light Industry (Soyuzlegprom), told in his interview to "Made in Russia" portal about how not to miss the chance, what measures are planned to implement to support the light industry.
- Andrey Valentinovich, how has the current economic situation in the country affected the light industry?
Let's put it this way: ambiguous. Of course, there are all the signs of the crisis, but the situation is constantly changing, both in bad and in good direction. It is important for the government to respond to this situation through various measures. In this case, it is possible to level out the problems that arise. For example, a drop in demand or lack of credit.
Of course, as a result of the devaluation of the ruble, there is interest in our products from foreign buyers, as the price of our products is now becoming competitive in the world market.
Due to unprofitability, imports of products have fallen significantly; by our estimates, by about 45%. However, in general, the demand for light industry products has decreased by about 25-30%. The resulting lag of 15% can be filled by our enterprises. But all the opportunities that have opened up are still poorly used.
- Why did this situation occur?
The reason is the lack of access to credit. Today, the policy of banks is aimed at reducing loan portfolios.
If a company, as compared to last year, has, say, 40% more orders, it cannot fulfill them, because it needs to buy raw materials. Since everyone who works seriously in the market pays for goods with a delay, it is almost impossible to develop without loans.
With the right approach, it would be possible to take the market seriously, but lack of access to credit significantly limits development.
- Were there any attempts to solve this problem?
The Ministry of Industry and Trade, with our participation, has developed a programme to support the light industry sector for 2016. It included measures that at least partially offset the impact of the crisis on the industry.
For example, it was proposed to use the experience of supporting agriculture, where serious results were achieved. Our industry, like agriculture, is more adaptive than many others and less exposed to force majeure, so we believe that the proposed support measures should yield results. But so far the document has not been finally approved, the issue is under discussion.
- What support measures have been proposed?
These are both subsidies and regulatory measures, as well as soft loans. Among the proposed measures is the choice of Rosselkhozbank as an authorized bank for lending to light industry producers, its additional capitalization for a certain amount in order to change the amount of reserve capital. In this way, we will create an instrument for lending to our enterprises.
In addition, there is a proposal to use Rosselkhozleasing and oblige it to work with our industry.
- How long do you expect the launch of this program to take place?
The government order says that in February the issue should be resolved.
- Will they succeed?
That's not my question. All we have to do is wait and hope.
If the decision is made, even if not in February but in March, we will see the results only in the next 2017. Even if it is adopted, it will be necessary to develop appropriate documents, all methodological guidelines, and it will also take time.
In a good way, the program for 2016 would have to be approved in November, at least in December 2015, so that it would start working right from the beginning of the year.
- How is the problem with commodity dependence, which became a serious problem after the collapse of the USSR, being solved?
The problem is solved very simply: you need raw materials - you go and buy them. But on the state level, unfortunately, nobody deals with the issues of dependence on foreign raw materials. Saving the drowning people is the work of the drowning people themselves. Some decisions are made, but their implementation has not yet come to an end, and it is impossible to create an industry for the production of raw materials without state support.
Apart from Russia, for our manufacturers, what are the key markets you would note? Have they changed as a result of the crisis?
The main market for exports is the CIS countries. However, our companies are developing relations with some countries of the former Soviet Union, let's say, not ideally. Of course, there are no laws that directly prohibit Russian products, but at the administrative level various obstacles are put in place to prevent our manufacturers from entering the market.
Since we are building a common Eurasian economic space, I am sure that all these problems can be overcome through negotiations and the search for compromise. The formation of stable ties between the CIS countries will make it possible to solve the problem of raw materials, cooperation in finding new markets for finished products, optimizing human resources and building logistics chains.