The Competitive Edge of National Jurisdictions: Drawing on Russian and African Experience
Russia and Africa are historically predisposed to cooperate successfully
For the past 4 years Russia–Africa trade reached USD 20 billion. It is a notable growth, nearly twofold, yet it is not enough as historically our countries cooperated a lot: it was not only military and engineering, but culture and education as well — Vladimir Gruzdev, Chairman of the Board, Association of Lawyers of Russia.
Soviet interests have always been tightly intertwined with those of Africa. Yes, there was a 30-year period when the attention was not as tight. But we needed those 30 years to build market economy in our country — Vladimir Platonov, President, Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Harmonizing economic legislature is on African agenda
There’s an African initiative called OHADA, Organisation pour l'Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires. 17 countries united and now have equal rights in business rights. <…> Doing business in these countries is very easy. <…> The EU is very interested in this initiative, they want to replicate it in Europe — Gabriel Curtis, Minister of Investments and Public and Private Partnerships of the Republic of Guinea.
The leadership of the Republic of the Congo has now adopted several legal acts that facilitate investment and the establishment of enterprises. In just a week, foreign investors can set up a business in the Congo. At the same time, the charter capital for the LLC is one symbolic Congolese franc, i.e. there is no need to look for wealthy partners. Companies that want to work in the Congo can form different legal entities — Lucien Dieudonne Ngoyi, President, General Director, BNB World Trading Corporation.
Lack of legal defense for Russian investments in Africa
There is a need to actively sign and adopt laws that protect our investments, our judicial decisions. Now the international treaties of the Russian Federation, providing for the possibility of mutual recognition and execution of judicial acts, have been concluded only with 8 out of 54 African countries. Can you imagine how much more needs to be done in this field? This is the task we are facing — Vladimir Platonov, President, Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Low awareness level among businesses about local legislation
When speaking to the business community and entrepreneurs, I see that there are things that both sides do not understand from the legal point of view, in terms of taxes, benefits, customs clearance, customs duties, responsibility for these actions — Sergey Gebel, Member of the General Council, Delovaya Rossiya (Business Russia); General Director, Managing Partner, Abbeville Law Firm.
Signing agreements that will facilitate cooperation between Russian and African entrepreneurs
Africa has already shown that it wants to work with other countries as one trading block. That is why we have signed the continental trade agreement. It will be difficult for one country, even one like Russia, to deal with the 54 sets of rules that exist in each country. To be effective, we need to think about how we will develop continental rules that will show Russia how to work with Africa. <...> We need to simplify the process and ensure harmonization so that Russian businessmen know the general rules — Ghandi Badela, Advocate, Johannesburg Society of Advocates.
Russia has concluded a number of agreements on investment protection with African countries, in particular with Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, and Libya. Some agreements are still under consideration and will enter into force in the near future. For example, agreements with Ethiopia and Algeria. We see that Russian investors are interested in expanding their activities not only in these countries, but also in other jurisdictions on the African continent. In such jurisdictions, it is necessary to create an appropriate legal regime, a mechanism for Russian investors to feel more comfortable — Kirill Udovichenko, Partner, Monastyrsky, Zyuba, Stepanov & Partners.
Raising the awareness from both sides
If our investors are interested in African countries and cooperation with the continent, I believe our entrepreneurs should be aware of all the risks and levels of responsibility that await them in African territories. <...> Both our entrepreneurs and those in Africa need to learn as much as possible about how to interact with each other and how to set up joint ventures — Sergey Gebel, Member of the General Council, Delovaya Rossiya (Business Russia); General Director, Managing Partner, Abbeville Law Firm.
We have been implementing an interesting Business Market project for a year now. This is an electronic platform that allows entrepreneurs to get information about each other. Africa is as close as other countries: now it is enough to reach out and touch the keyboard, and you will get a hold of any country, with any entrepreneur. This is an enormous discovery, it should be used — Vladimir Platonov, President, Moscow Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Improving the legislation that protects the investors
We have strengthened our anti-corruption legislation. We are sending a very strong signal to all those who would like to make commercial transactions in our country. Indeed, since the adoption of this law, the fight against corruption has become a priority in our judicial system. All of this is done in a transparent manner and inspires confidence in investors. It is very important for us to understand that investors work in a safe environment and have certain guarantees for their investments — Gabriel Curtis, Minister of Investments and Public and Private Partnerships of the Republic of Guinea.
The material was prepared by the Russian news agency TASS