Davos – Andrey Guryev, President of the Russian Association of Fertilizer Producers and CEO of PhosAgro, one of the world’s largest producers of phosphate-based fertilizers, took part in a panel session called ‘The Russian Economic Outlook’, which took place at Russia House as part of the business programme at the 49th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
‘The Russian Economic Outlook’ was the first of six plenary sessions to be held at Russia House during the Forum. In addition to PhosAgro’s CEO, SUN Group Vice Chairman Shiv Vikram Khemka, IHS Markit Vice Chairman Daniel Yergin and the Deputy Editor of the Caixin Information Agency, Huang Shang, also took part in the session. The participants discussed issues related to expanding investments, structural changes and the measures and steps necessary to stimulate Russian industrial production and exports in the context of globalisation.
Opening the plenary session, Guryev noted that, despite sanctions against Russia, domestic companies continued to increase production and sales, while improving their efficiency and productivity, saying:
“Russia’s president and government are creating favourable conditions and opportunities for further development of business, and taking financial and non-financial measures to support companies in the field of high-tech exports to increase their investments and strengthen their competitiveness in international markets. The Russian Export Centre and Roseximbank are providing meaningful support for pre-export financing and comprehensive export credit insurance. Leading global investors and the RDIF, which also promotes the interests of Russian companies abroad, are making direct investments in both leading and promising Russian companies.
“Sanctions have undoubtedly limited access to ‘cheap’ financing. Meanwhile, this situation has provided an additional impetus to companies that are constantly working to improve their efficiency, to rise to the challenge and to find new tools for growth. In just the last five years, for example, our company has increased production of mineral fertilizers and feed phosphates by more than 50 per cent. We invest at least USD 500 million every year, and our investment in development doesn’t fall below 50% of EBITDA, which is one of the highest rates in Russian industry.
“One of the most dynamic Russian industries today is agriculture, which produces the most environmentally friendly products in the world, largely due to the use of Russian mineral fertilizers, which stand out because they are of high quality and contain almost no potentially-harmful contaminants. And it is Russia’s longest border, with China, that the bulk of Russian exports cross; Chinese companies have shown great interest in Russian products. That’s why significant investments are being made in the development of agriculture in the Far East.
“What we are talking about today is not just growth, but growth in the real sector, where the best available technologies, digitisation, robotics and intelligent solutions are being introduced. Here’s an example from PhosAgro: our average annual increase in labour productivity is roughly 25%, and we are to a great extent indebted to these new technologies for improving our efficiency and optimising our business processes. Therefore, we already have such experience in Russia, and this needs to be expanded.”