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Replacing tech of runaway firms not enough – Russian business lobby chief

Reverse engineering products and improving their designs is the way to enhance international competitiveness, Aleksandr Shokhin said

It is not sufficient for Russia to simply reverse engineer the products of foreign firms which have fled the market amid the confrontation with the West, Aleksandr Shokhin, the head of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (RSPP), told RT on Wednesday. The replacements should be better, so that they can be internationally competitive, he said.

The business lobby chief explained the “intellectual challenge” of improving upon Western designs on the sidelines of a forum in Moscow, where senior officials, innovators and business elites discussed ways to comprehensively boost national sovereignty, particularly in the tech sector.

It was the tenth event of its kind, organized by Innopraktika, a company which focuses on fostering human capital in Russia. It is headed by Katerina Tikhonova, a scientist whom many media outlets contend is the second daughter of President Vladimir Putin. Shokhin was one of several high-profile attendees. The guest list also included Roscosmos chief Yury Borisov, Education Minister Valery Falkov, and Viktor Sadovnichy, the rector of the Moscow State University, to name a few.

Speaking to journalists, Shokhin explained that replacing products that Russia had previously imported ideally needs to involve added value rather than simply cloning them. Then the final product can be successfully exported, strengthening the nation’s international standing.

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“There can be no autarky, of course. We can offer our products, our services, our values to … friendly nations. Step by step, this will become an offer to the entire world,” he said.

RSPP’s head attended the forum to report on how Russian producers were doing in terms of import replacement. In a survey that the group conducted, some 30% of businesses expressed an intention to take over market niches that were vacated by fleeing foreign firms, but only 7% said they have done so, Shokhin said.

At a separate panel, Vera Bratkova, who heads a center for importing the system of assessing and valuing natural resources which Russia currently uses, said that a major overhaul was imminent. A proposed law that would introduce a sovereign approach will be submitted to parliament next year, she said.

The country has been relying upon the services of foreign firms, such as Ryder Scott Company, to estimate its reserves, but Western sanctions have put the cooperation in jeopardy. Now the goal, Bratkova said, is to have an independent system that is not only accurate but also internationally recognized.


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Panelists at other sessions discussed the introduction of quantum communications in Russia, the recent boost in the number of submitted patent requests, the business potential of artificial intelligence and state support for monetization of scientific research.

December 14, 2023 at 10:28AM
RT

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