According to Ivan Sukhanov, Head of EXPORT SUPPORT AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER OF KHABAROVSK KRAI, SMEs lack finance and knowledge to start exporting. In his interview to EASTRUSSIA he shared his ideas on how to get both and start selling abroad.
— You have mentioned large enterprises. However, what is the share of SMEs in regional exports?
— According to statistics, in 2015 there were circa 130 exporting SMEs. In 2016 — there are 160 SMBs. Of course, it’s all a drop in the ocean taking into consideration that we have about 63 thousand small businesses in the region. But we look comparatively well off in the exporting SME sector if we glance at other regions of Russia — our position is 22 in the Russian Federation. In our country we have around 13,5 thousand of SMEs selling abroad.
— And what can a small company export?
— A good example is our famous ice-cream brand ZAITSA owned by Ilya Amirkhanov. The company has been exporting scoop ice-cream to China and is implementing a packaging project for their ice-cream at the moment. Now they can’t sell packaged products (that was one of the reasons why he couldn’t continue regular shipments of ice-cream to South Korea). The company applied for pre-export financing to launch the packaging project and the loan has been approved. The culture of consumption in Asia demands packaging. And another reason why the ice-cream project did not evolve in the Republic of Korea is because unlike Khabarovsk you can’t put a cart of ice-cream in a park and sell — one must have a shop (café), for example, and sell outside the shop. At the moment they are negotiating with Japanese companies. They got support from Singapore but the problem is still packaging.
— Are foods the only available niche for SMEs?
— At the moment, there’s primarily a strong demand from the Chinese market but not without subtleties — tastes differ. At the same time, most of exported foods are not produced in Khabarovsk Krai — only exported from our region, for instance, chocolates. We, of course, have also contributed to the food exports. We have been exporting locally produces cookies. The sales go via an in-between at the moment, however, we are going to start direct exports this year. There’s also a high demand for honey. We have a number of companies exporting so-called non-wood forestry products — shelled pine nuts. But due to seasonal fluctuations our producers are exporting via their Moscow partners. We have been also exporting furs to Germany. Besides, we have a number of shipments of food supplements made of antlers to Vietnam. The company exports unprocessed antlers, but they are going to launch a deep processing project in the nearest future.
— Which companies and products you have mentioned need support in their export activities?
— I assume all companies including large ones. But, of course, they can afford international departments. At the same time, we can help them as well — via Trade Representatives in other countries, for example. One way or another, the national export support system is being established. And we are the ‘one-stop shop’ for the export system in the region. And smaller companies, as a rule, don’t know what to start with.
According to the Far Eastern Customs in 2016 Khabarovsk Krai exported goods totaling $1,54 bln. Major export items: timber and lumber — $503,8 mln (32,6 %), aircrafts — $294,4 mln (19 %), fish and seafood — $226,8 mln (14,7 %), fuel including coal — $203,6 mln. (13 %), precious metals and products — $139,1 mln (9 %).Top 5 Importing Countries — China ($900 mln), Republic of Korea ($276 mln), Great Britain ($99,5 mln), Japan ($90 mln) and Switzerland ($53 mln).