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In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in Russia | Protection of Foreign Investment | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Office Real Estate and Land Ownership | Investment Aid | Investment Opportunities | Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer | Finding Assistance For Further Information

 

FDI in Figures

On February 24th 2022, Russia initiated a military conflict on the Ukrainian territory, which profoundly upsets the current political and economic context in both countries and will have substantial ramifications on the investment climate. For the ongoing updates on the developments of Russia-Ukraine conflict please consult the dedicated pages on BBC News.

The latest specific information on economic sanctions against Russia in response to the conflict in Ukraine is available below:
•    What sanctions are being imposed on Russia
•    The list of global sanctions on Russia for the war in Ukraine


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FDI flows to Russia have plummeted by 70% from USD 32 billion in 2019 to USD 10 billion in 2020, according to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2021. In 2020, the stock of FDI was about USD 447 billion. In addition to the pandemic, weak international demand for crude oil and a price conflict drove prices to historically low levels and impacted investments in the sector. Yet, the Russian Federation remained the largest recipient of FDI in the region, accounting for more than 40% of inflows. According to OECD data, FDI flows rebounded in the first half of 2021, reaching USD 11.3 billion. However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 is expected to deeply and lastingly deteriorate business climate. Various Western companies have decided to stop or limit their activity in Russia. For example, major oil and gas groups such as BP, Shell and Exxon decided to boycott the country, and French Total announced it would no longer bring capital to new projects in Russia. Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s largest, said it would divest itself of its Russian investments. With the aim of provoking the collapse of the economy, Western countries adopted an unprecedented range of sanctions against Russia, which triggered the flight of foreign capital. Russia’s central bank assets have been frozen, selected banks have been removed from the international communication tool SWIFT, the EU airspace has been closed to Russian aircraft, exports of high-tech components to Russia have been restricted, and the Nord Stream 2 certification was withhold, among other measures. In reaction, the government announced the preparation of a presidential decree aimed at preventing foreign investment exiting the country. Major investors in 2020 included some large economies such as France, Turkey, the UK and the US. The geographical proximity has also driven FDI within the territory of the Russian Federation, with ongoing Chinese cross-border investment in the Russian Far East and resilient investment from Finland. The main sectors receiving FDI are the extractive industry, manufacturing, financial and insurance activities, wholesale and retail trade, administrative and service activities, and real estate.
 
Before the war, the share of FDI in GDP remained relatively low given the country's growth and economic potential, and working capital investments represented a significant share of total FDI. Russia has undertaken economic reforms in recent years, but administrative problems, corruption and uncertainties regarding the stability of the region remained major challenges. Russia passed a law allowing it to seize the assets of foreign states on its own territory, in reaction to the confiscation of Russian property by European countries in the Yukos case. Russia ranks 28th (out of 190 countries) in the Doing Business 2020 ranking established by the World Bank (latest report), an increase of 3 places compared to the previous year. The main assets of Russia are its abundant natural resources (oil, gas and metals) and its large and skilled workforce.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 201820192020
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 13,22832,0769,676
FDI Stock (million USD) 408,097493,156446,656
Number of Greenfield Investments* 325290175
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 18,35224,6028,037

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 

FDI STOCKS BY COUNTRY AND INDUSTRY

Main Investing Countries 2020, in %
Cyprus 28.6
Bermuda 8.9
Netherlands 8.7
United Kingdom 7.8
Luxembourg 6.0
Ireland 5.6
Bahamas 4.4
France 3.6
Germany 3.5
Main Invested Sectors 2020, in %
Mining and quarrying 24.0
Manufacturing industry 21.0
Wholesale and retail trade, repair of motor vehicles 15.7
Financial and insurance activities 13.3
Professional, scientific and technical activities 9.6
Real estate 5.5

Source: Central Bank of Russia - Latest available data.

 
Form of Company Preferred By Foreign Investors
Closed Joint-Stock Company (AOZT)
A partner's know-how and knowledge of the market can be taken advantage of while keeping a certain control of the company.
Form of Establishment Preferred By Foreign Investors
Investors generally open a branch office first (or a representative office) before creating a subsidiary.
Main Foreign Companies
Rosneft, Shell, Total, General Motors, Renault, Phillip Morris, Auchan, Nestlé, Cadbury, Carlsberg.
Sources of Statistics
Federal Statistics Service
Bank of Russia
Ministry of Economic Development and Trade
UNCTAD

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What to consider if you invest in Russia

Strong Points

Many investors see Russia as still under-exploited. The key advantages for FDI in Russia include:

  • A strong economic base, based in particular on abundant natural resources (oil, gas and metals)
  • Large domestic market size
  • Accessible labour cost attractive to foreign investors
  • Skilled workforce trained in export functions and relatively open internationally (due to its geographical and cultural proximity to Western Europe and Asia)
  • Low public debt
  • Comfortable foreign exchange reserves
  • Current account surplus
Weak Points

Russia has an investment climate that is complicated to control and generally unstable. The major disadvantages for FDI in Russia include:

  • Deteriorated economic and investment climate due to severe economic sanctions imposed at an unprecedented scale by the EU, US and other Western countries following Russia's military invasion of Ukraine in February 2022
  • The Russian economy remains extremely dependent on the prices of hydrocarbons (39% of GDP) and raw materials as well as on imports of capital goods and foreign technology
  • Low business confidence in the country's legal system
  • Institutional and governance weaknesses (insolvency treatment, property rights, corruption)
  • Many sectors considered strategic are closed to foreign investments
  • Declining demographics
  • High level of social security contributions (30% of salaries)
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
The Ministry of Economic Development (MED) is responsible for overseeing investment policy in Russia.  The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) was established to facilitate FDI in Russia.

The establishment of investment assistance in Russia is still in its infancy. The government prefers to improve the general investment climate by tax reductions and economic reforms. Majority foreign ownership is subject to authorisation in many sectors, particularly those linked to raw materials, heavy industry and aerospace.
Among the effective incentives are:

  • Regional incentives which are granted at regional and local levels, and are concerned with the taxes paid to the respective budgets (exemption from property, land and transport taxes, exemption from customs duties and import VAT, corporate profits tax).
  • Special economic zones which provide for special tax regimes (exemption from property and land tax, exemption from customs duties and VAT, reduced corporate profits tax)
  • Incentives regarding certain activities, for example IT business, different types of research and technologies works, and so on.

For more information, please visit the website Invest in Russia.

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Protection of Foreign Investment

Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed By Russia
Russia has 63 bilateral investment treaties (BITs) in force. To see the complete list of the countries, go to the Investment Policy Hub (UNCTAD).
International Controversies Registered By UNCTAD
The ISDS Navigator contains information about known international arbitration cases initiated by investors against States pursuant to international investment agreements. Russian Federation is involved in 25 cases as Home State of claimant and in 26 cases as Respondent State.
Organizations Offering Their Assistance in Case of Disagreement
ICSID , International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes
ICCWBO , International Court of arbitration, International Chamber of Commerce
SCCinstitute , Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce
Member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
Russian Federation is a signatory to the MIGA Convention.
 
Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Russia Eastern Europe & Central Asia United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 6.0 7.5 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 2.0 5.0 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 7.0 6.8 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Usually guaranteed.
Investment in certain domains which might affect national security may be limited.
Acquisition of Holdings
The majority acquisition of holdings in the capital of a local company is authorised in Russia.
Obligation to Declare

Russia’s basic legal framework governing investment includes

  • Law 160-FZ, July 9, 1999, “On Foreign Investment in the Russian Federation;”
  • Law No. 39-FZ,  February 25, 1999, “On Investment Activity in the Russian Federation in the Form of Capital Investment;”
  • Law No. 57-FZ, April 29, 2008, “Foreign Investments in Companies Having Strategic Importance for State Security and Defense;”
  • Law of the RSFSR No. 1488-1, June 26, 1991, “On Investment Activity in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR).”
Competent Organisation For the Declaration
Bank of Russia
Requests For Specific Authorisations
Russia’s Commission on Control of Foreign Investment (Commission) was established in 2008 to monitor foreign investment in strategic sectors, such as natural resources, energy, transport, communications, defence industry. A law “On Mass Media,” took effect in 2015 which restricts foreign ownership of any Russian media company to 20 percent.

Learn more about Foreign Investment in Russia on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Office Real Estate and Land Ownership

Possible Temporary Solutions
Temporary office Solutions
The Possibility of Buying Land and Industrial and Commercial Buildings
Foreign legal entities have the right to buy land, but with certain restrictions. Russian law places two primary restrictions on land ownership by foreigners.  The first is on the foreign ownership of land located in border areas or other sensitive territories in terms of national security.  The second restricts foreign ownership of agricultural land to more than 50%. These foreign entities may, however, hold agricultural land through leasehold rights.  As an alternative to owning farmland, foreign corporations typically lease land for up to 49 years, the maximum allowable term.
Risk of Expropriation
The Law on Foreign Investments provides guarantees for foreign investors and commercial entities with foreign investments against expropriation of their property. The law prohibits nationalizations except in the case of legislation intended to protect the national interest. The company can appeal this decision and must receive compensation immediately.

At the regional level, the risk exists even so because of interference from the local government or non-application of certain judicial decisions.

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Investment Aid

Forms of Aid
Russian legislation provides for different kinds of incentives for which legal entities can benefit. Among the effective incentives are: regional incentives, special economic zones, incentives regarding specific projects, such as the Skolkovo innovation centre, incentives regarding certain activities, for example IT business, different types of research and technologies works, and incentives to invest in the Asian Far East. They usually offer exemption from property, land and transport taxes, exemption from customs duties and import VAT,  corporate profits tax.
Privileged Domains
Incentives aim to develop manufacturing, innovation, R&D and increase employment.
Privileged Geographical Zones

The Federal Law on Special Economic Zones in the Russian Federation dated 22 July 2005 No. 116-FZ created a platform for the strengthening of economic growth of the regions and specific areas in Russia. The main aims of SEZs are the development of: manufacturing, tourism, and recreation industries, port and transport infrastructures, technologies and new product production. The Law on SEZs distinguishes four types of SEZs:

  • Industrial production zones (15 SEZ)
  • Technical and implementation zones (7SEZ)
  • Recreation and tourism zones (10SEZ)
  • Logistics and port zones (1 SEZ)
Free Zones
Currently there are 33 SEZs operating in Russian territory. To know more about the SEZs, click here.
Public aid and funding organisations
Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development finances investments in Russia, especially in the form of loans.
 
 

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Investment Opportunities

The Key Sectors of the National Economy
Mining sector, heavy industry, automobile industry, real estate.
High Potential Sectors
Transport and communications, agro-equipment (Russia needs to reconstitute a local production tool to deal with import bans from the EU), information technology (services in particular), automobile (spare parts and after-sales service) sale in particular), aeronautics, distribution.
Privatization Programmes
In January 2020, the Russian government published a privatization plan for 2020-22 that identified 86 federal unitary state enterprises, 186 joint-stock companies, and 13 limited liability companies for privatization over a three-year period. According to the government estimates, the plan could generate RUB 3.6 billion ($48.2 million) per year for the federal budget.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Globaltenders, Tenders & Projects from Russia
Tenders Info, Tenders in Russian Federation
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide

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Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer

Monopolistic Sectors
Distribution of water and electricity, export and distribution of natural gas, rail transport, postal services to individuals and long distance landline telephone.

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Learn more about Investing in Russia on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Latest Update: May 2022