Russian Arctic — the world’s largest free economic zone
© RIA Novosti. Alexander Astafyev

Russian Arctic — the world’s largest free economic zone

Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin met with Arctic zone investors on October 21, during his working visit to the Murmansk Region.

Mr Mishustin told the investors that meetings in an open dialogue format like this are very important and help the government understand what needs to be done to make the lives of investors, as well as the local people, easier and more comfortable.

“You are the people who want to invest in the Arctic, the North, in your native land. This is great. During my visits to various regions I see how people want to improve their living conditions, make their lives more comfortable and help those who live in the region, and hence, upgrade services and improve the system. This is great,” Mr Mishustin said.

He added that the Government had already made a number of decisions to improve the terms for investing and doing business as well as for improving living standards in the Arctic. First of all, there is a simple and convenient mechanism for becoming a business resident with the lowest possible threshold to qualify for preferential status — 1 million rubles. In addition, it has been decided to reduce the insurance premium rates for resident businesses that create new jobs — 7.5 percent for big business and 3.25 percent for small and medium-sized companies.

State support is envisaged for investors that intent to carry out infrastructure projects. “The first six projects have already been endorsed. The federal budget has allocated 13 billion rubles for this purpose over the next three years. Of course, roads and energy facilities are objectively required for new plants where local residents can work. This will be yet another important reason for people to stay and work in the North,” Mr Mishustin said.

“There is more good news. The Fund for the Development of the Far East and Arctic will earmark 4 billion rubles to support two projects in the Murmansk Region — in the single-industry cities Kovdor and Kirovsk. The State Commission Presidium has already supported this decision. These projects will make it possible to preserve employment and also to create an additional 1,000 new jobs. The fund will support both large and small projects. The Government has decided to lower the rate at which residents can secure funding; it will only be 2 percent compared with the previous 5 percent,” said Mishustin.

He laid special emphasis on the fact that today the Arctic is becoming an investment-friendly region: “The world’s largest free economic zone has been created in our northern areas. It must become more attractive to businesses in many different industries and of different sizes. It should also appeal to foreign investors. Why not? <…> There are many industries that may be attractive, whether it’s a fish processing plant, a small hotel or medical service companies. All companies must receive equal opportunities, all the more so since this has been sealed in a package of laws on state support for doing business in the Arctic.”

Transcript of the meeting is accessible on the Russian Government’s official website