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The State Duma proposed the prospect of the development of maritime transport in the context of new geopolitics
Material posted: Publication date: 17-11-2022
Currently, the processes of import substitution in various directions have heterogeneous dynamics. There are both positive examples and failure points. The current conditions of ITS oblige monitoring and operational regulation of this process. On October 20, the State Duma of the Russian Federation held a meeting of the Working Group on the Protection of the domestic market and exports in the face of unfriendly actions of Western states and foreign participants in the Russian market in order to support enterprises and industries engaged in scientific research, production and introduction of specialized materials and technologies in Russia.

The meeting of the Working Group was attended by experts of the Center for Strategic Assessments and Forecasts – coordinator of the project "Marine Policy" Anna Gornova and Vice-President of the Association of Aerospace, Marine, Extreme and Environmental Medicine Yuri Tarasov.

The participants considered the issues of import substitution in the construction of transport infrastructure. The speakers spoke about the situation in certain areas, about their developments, the problems faced in the regions, about what will help reduce the cost of building the country's transport infrastructure.

During the meeting, Anna Gornova, coordinator of the project "Maritime Policy" of the Center for Strategic Assessments and Forecasts, spoke about the situation in the sphere of transport independence of the Russian Federation in terms of maritime transport.

She noted that by 2022, the sanctions imposed by the collective West against Russia due to a special military operation in Ukraine revealed the fact of a shortage of large-tonnage domestic vessels. Official statistics for reports are "closed" due to the tonnage of 5-6 thousand tons of river-sea vessels that can sail along the shores of the Baltic, Black, Mediterranean Seas, as well as the service fleet. European seaports are closed to the Russian merchant fleet.

However, in order to deliver commercial cargo to the countries of South America, the African continent, India, China and other Asian countries, a large tonnage is required: bulk carriers, container ships, gas carriers, Ro-Ro vessels, timber carriers and passenger ships. And they are not or are significantly lacking. There is also a catastrophic lack of a refrigerated fleet for the export of catches from the extraction site to refrigerators in our fishing ports.

There is a significant shortage of tankers. The Russian oil loading fleet provides only 15% of Russia's oil exports. More than half of the oil and petroleum products from the ports of the Russian Federation are delivered by tankers of Greek shipowners, other flags earn fabulous money on these shipments.     

"This year, Russia has harvested a rich harvest of grain, but there are no appropriate vessels to export this grain to those countries that are not under pressure from Western sanctions. As a result, the elevators are full, and the so-called "grain deal" works only in favor of Ukraine, as the President of Russia has already said more than once.

Due to the shortage of the domestic bulk carrier fleet, there was also a problem with the export of coal. The concern of cargo owners about commercial profit led to this situation. They have been selling their coal to foreigners at the port on FOB terms for many years instead of taking it to the buyer and giving it back on CIF terms at the delivery port.

If the legislator had tied the Russian flag to the cargo base in time, grain, coal, fertilizers, and all other goods could now be transported to those countries where they do not pay attention to sanctions. The short-sighted policy of the authorities and the comprador nature of business led to the fact that the transportation of our foreign trade goods for 30 years was acquired by foreigners. Here is a good example: in 2021, the total volume of Russian sea cargo transportation, including exports and imports, amounted to 835 million tons. Of these, only 25 million tons were transported under the Russian flag," Anna Gornova said.

The expert drew attention to the fact that Russia has a Maritime Doctrine (Decree of the President of the Russian Federation dated 31.07.2022 No. 512). At the same time, there is no one in a huge maritime power who is responsible for the existence of a national merchant marine fleet. The Ministry of Industry and Trade is responsible for all construction, but does not study the market: where, how much capacity and what needs to be built or purchased. No one is ever responsible for the failure of the established deadlines for the delivery of ships. In Soviet times, this was done by Gosplan and Minmorflot. They studied the market there, tied transport capacities to the export-import cargo base, and planned to load the fleet. Now there is no system analysis, which led to the above situation.

"For Russia, the centralization of the civil fleet into a state structure with one window will give significant geopolitical advantages and a social effect, expressed in a multiple reduction in the price of products for the population," Anna Gornova stressed.

To solve problems in the direction of providing the industry of the Russian Federation with a commercial large-tonnage navy, it is proposed:
  • recommend to develop and include in the Strategy for the Development of Maritime Activities of the Russian Federation 2030 (dated 30.08. 2019 No. 1930-r) a program to ensure Russian exports and imports with a large-tonnage fleet. Assign responsible executors for it. Within the framework of this Program, to provide for full maintenance of the fleet on the Russian territory and further development of the coastal infrastructure for these vessels. To determine the possibility of purchasing ships on the secondary market and the creation of joint ventures with other countries;
  • to develop maritime trade between the BRICS countries, to provide sea transport in this direction, to consider it as a strategic tool for avoiding dollar dependence;
  • to consider the Concept of joint container lines of the BRICS countries, which can become the framework of transport logistics of the economic and political commonwealth of the BRICS countries. To consider this Concept as an economic tool that contributes to the creation of prerequisites for the active development of foreign trade relations of countries on the basis of a new currency system of mutual settlements independent of the dollar within the framework of the development and investment funds being formed, taking into account the financial potential of the BRICS joint bank being created in Shanghai;
  • to work out proposals on the cargo base of the container line of the BRICS countries, as well as to propose options for the organizational form of an International Shipping Corporation with the participation of the Russian Federation.


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