Why Minpromtorg does not react to appeals from Russian producers to ban Turkish imports
The largest Russian companies have long been asking the RF Ministry of Trade and Industry to include dry mix mortars in the list of Turkish goods forbidden for import in Russia. At present, Turkish dry mix mortars are sold in Russia at dumping prices, making the harsh economic situation for Russian enterprises even more complicated. But the Ministry is not reacting to these appeals, feeling sure that “producers are to be supported in other ways”. Who is right?
In April, our journal published an interview with Yury Goncharov, Head of the “VOLMA” company, one of the leaders of the Russian construction materials market.
Mr Goncharov spoke of what is worrying Russian producers and offered his proposals to be considered at the State Council Presidium sitting dedicated to the development of the construction complex and the improvement of urban development activity in Russia, which took place in May.
Among the proposals, which, from the standpoint of the domestic company leader, may seriously help construction industry enterprises, was a ban on Turkish construction materials imports, and particularly dry mix mortars.
Let us focus upon this part of our interview.
Haven’t they overshot the mark?
— Well, how should state policy be corrected in the sphere of construction regulations to smooth the crisis’ consequences for our producers?
— Look, all producers are now having difficulty with selling their products, and yet construction materials are still being imported into Russia, with the roughest dumping. To hold the market, the importers are delivering goods at sacrificial prices.
The situation should be changed. I have already spoken about this at a meeting with Minister Denis Manturov at the end of December, when he, together with his deputy, held a conference in Adygea (where we are opening a new plant this year, by the way). It was then that I told him it would be necessary to close our ports to Turkish producers and to stop importing dry mix mortars.
— And what was the result: did Minpromtorg help you?
— Construction materials are still being delivered, in vast volumes of dozens of thousands of tons… and not only dry mix mortars, but heat insulation and much other stuff. The answer was as follows: ok, let us start licensing the enterprises. The idea was good and should have been implemented by February/March, but it is now April and there has been no result.
At the same time, there is a list prepared by Minpromtorg of goods forbidden to be brought into Russia from Turkey. It is rather long, and there is even salt on it. So I tell them: ”Put a comma after ‘salt’ and write ‘dry mix mortars’, and that’s all!”
Is it difficult to do? Well, they haven’t done it…
— It means that it has not been ignored by chance. A corruption component may be present here; it may be disadvantageous for somebody to put in the comma…
— I do not know. And I can’t prove anything. I’m just shouting that imports should be stopped during the crisis. It’s a normal protective measure.
Forbid imports of DMM for a period: say, half a year. People will change their habits, will start buying domestic materials. Is that a bad thing?
Let us ask the minister
Having published the interview, we decided to persevere and try to help Russian construction industry’s enterprises solve the problem. What can the media do? First of all, bring the producers’ opinions to the attention of a mainstream audience, including the upper echelons of power. To that end, we included Mr. Goncharov’s proposal on the Turkish DMM import ban in the list of our readers’ proposals for the State Council.
Secondly, the media can ask questions directly to those responsible for solutions to the problem. In this case, these are the heads of the RF Ministry of Trade and Industry, supervising the construction materials and equipment production industry.
And, after the State Council, we got our opportunity. We raised the issue in a talk with the First Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Gleb Nikitin, during a working trip to Ryazan.
We quote this part of our talk practically in full.
— Mr Nikitin, salt has been included on the list of the goods banned from import from Turkey, but dry mix mortars haven’t. Is this a mistake by the Ministry, or a deliberate policy?
More than enough DMM is produced in Russia. Why is it being brought in from Turkey?
— In fact, you know, the corresponding solutions that were found were to provide for security. The corresponding list was analyzed together with other ministries and institutions, proposals were formed, and the solution was quite conscious. We support our producer in other ways.
— Not connected with import replacement?
— I repeat again: we are implementing import replacement in other ways. We have import replacement plans for each branch of industry, and support for corresponding branches. In the case with the Turkish Republic – that is a solution of quite a different type.
And now tell us, dear readers, especially those of you who work for Russian construction industry enterprises: are you satisfied with the Deputy Minister’s answer? We are not! The answer is like the old Russian proverb: we talk about Thomas, and he talks about Jonas, i.e. he is talking about apples and oranges.
Due to this, we have decided to start a special column on our website, where any reader may ask the RF Minister of Trade and Industry, Denis Manturov, Mr Nikitin’s boss, any question concerning support for Russian construction materials and equipment producers.
We invite our readers to use this opportunity and ask questions to help the construction industry, which is now in some of the worst conditions of any branch of the Russian economy.
We are looking forward to your questions. We are sure we can work together.