The first step to meet Islamic banking in Russia was taken by means of Islamic leasing

Peculiarities of economic development motivated experts to look for the new banking instruments. Lately the offer to create the Islamic banking in Russia has been articulated with ever increasing frequency. The Islamic banking is understood to be a way of prosecuting the banking operations being in line with the religious rules of Islam. One of the main rules is refusal to draw interests from credit granting, deposits. Moreover, corporations that manufacture alcohol and tobacco, witchcraft related activity, speculation, gambling games are prohibited in the Islamic world. 

This brings up the question, what helps the income of the Islamic banking to grow? Financial institutions appropriate money for investment projects. The entrepreneur gains a certain profit investing this money. He/she shares one part of the profit with bank and the bank in its turn shares with the depositor. Due to this various specific forms are carried out in the Islamic world, such as:  musharaka and mudaraba (joint and trust management), murabaha (installment sale), sukuk (Islamic interest-free bonds), takaful (insurance) and others.

Thus far the isolated cases of implementing the Islamic bank took place in Russia. However in the end they all failed. According to experts, the main reasons for this are difficulties related to the Russian Legislation, lack of government support, as well as uncertainty of the Islamic banking development in the country where the majority of citizens doesn’t profess Islam.

Nevertheless, certain features of the Islamic banking in Russia might be turned into reality with the help of so-called “Islamic windows”. The point lies in the collaboration with the branch of the ordinary bank which carries out its activity in accordance with the Sharia. Thus, for instance, in 2011 the «AK Bars» Bank has successfully arranged the investment of funds of the syndicated financing*, employed within a framework of the Islamic transaction Murabaha in the amount of 60 mln USD. This transaction was recognized the best in 2011.

*Syndicated financing — is a finance product in which the credit is supplied to the borrower by no less than two lenders (lending syndicate), taking part in this transaction with a certain shares as a rule under integrated credit agreement. Structure flexibility allows using this type of financing practically for any project and borrower’s needs.
In 2012 the Islamic window was opened in the «Ellips bank» located in Nizhny Novgorod (according to Information and Analytical System Globas-i, the bank ceased operations by accession to AKB «Rossiisky kapital» in the end of 2014). Earlier the investment department of VTB «VTB Kapital» had been preparing the issue of the Islamic bonds sukuk. In 2014 it was decided to open the department of Islamic financing in «MBA-Moskva» bank. However in the whole the services of the Islamic bank in Russia never gained mass distribution. 
In the current environment of the economic crisis, under the dropping ruble’s rate to the US dollar, many domestic institutions feel the lack of liquidity. This situation provoked the necessity of searching for and implementing the new lines of cooperation among which the Islamic economy is. At the moment the issue of implementation of the Islamic banking in Russia is at the stage of discussion. The adoption of enactment concerning the issue is being postponed.
At the same time the deputy corps gives consideration to the certain financing instruments subject to the Sharia, in particular the Islamic leasing. In November 2015 a bill determining the rules of settlement of the leasing transactions in accordance with the standards of the Islamic financing was introduced to the State Duma. Thus the provisions of the bill rule out conclusion of two transactions at the same time in regard to one property (rent or purchase/sale). In this respect it is suggested to carry out the change of ownership by means of both lease agreement and particular purchase/sale agreement. The latter conforms to the Sharia law.
The experts observe that the standards of the Islamic financing will work towards crossing the barriers in business relationships with the Muslim countries. The positive thing is that the Central Bank of Russia supported the performance of experiment on implementation of the Islamic banking in several regions.
New preferences for import substitution

Information agency Credinform in its publications of 2015 several times addressed to the import substitution theme. The list of potential manufacturers of products for import substitution is prepared by Credinform and placed in the Information and Analytical System Globas-i®. The list is based on data of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation on more than 760 enterprises. 

The problem of import substitution, or replacement on the Russian market of foreign made goods with national ones, first of all, is connected with economic diversification of the country as one of the important points. However, development of program in this area began only after Russian and anti-Russian economic sanctions were imposed that limited access of Russian business to foreign credits. With falling prices on raw hydrocarbons and exchange-value of rouble in relation to main foreign currencies import substitution is becoming ever more relevant issue. 

It was said in the President of the RF`s message to the Federal Assembly in 2014 on necessity to overcome critical dependence of foreign technologies and industrial products. That was once more emphasized in the President`s message in 2015 in the context of necessity to increase amount of successful enterprises in industry, agriculture, in small and medium business. 

The plan of top-priority measures on maintenance of sustainable economic growth and social stability in 2015 was enacted by order of the Government of the RF of January 27, 2015 №98-r. One of key directions in the plan realization was support of import substitution and export on wide classification of non-raw materials which includes high-tech goods. That is regulated by the Government decree of August 4, 2015 №785 «On the establishment of the Government Commission on Import Substitution». The Commission consists of two sub-commissions: on the civilian economy and on the defense industry.

On the Meeting of the State Councilor on November of 2015 in Nizhny Tagil provisional results on import substitution were resumed. The minister of industry and trade of the RF Denis Manturov stated accomplishment of setting the support system basis for import substitution. As part of 19 branch programs 570 projects are realized. Major efforts were made by the Fund of industry development founded in 2014 at the initiative of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the RF by means of transformation of the Russian fund of technological development. For realization of industrial-technological projects focused on new high-tech products development, technical modernization and competitive production Fund provided special-purpose loans on competitive basis at the rate of 5% for the period till 7 years at the sum from 50 till 700 mln RUB. In 2015 Fund almost completely used capital in 20 bln RUB. 56 projects on the sum 19,2 bln RUB were approved.

Positive movements of investments in industries that involved in import substitution are confirmed by the Central Bank of the RF data on foreign direct investments in Russia. While reducing net investments volume in oil-product manufacture, services sector, trade, housing and utility sector, electro energetics, information and communication in the first half-year period of 2015 growth of investments in agriculture, food production, transport and equipment manufacture and chemical production is observed.

 Further, investors could get new benefits in the frame of special investment contracts with regions. Such conditions are provided by the Federal Law No. 488-FZ "On industrial policy". Participants of such agreements get guarantees of stable business running rules up to ten years, benefits on property tax and profit tax. Currently 5 such agreements are signed and 170 requests are under consideration. Moreover, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the RF suggests that companies can take part in government procurement out of competition in a volume not more than 30% of declared.

Another important way of support can be benefits for so called «green fields», that is new business started from nothing. Main preference can be reduction of profit tax till 10% within capital investments. Such bill was introduced to the State Duma on May, 2015 and needs to be improved aiming further decrease of limits for potential investors.

Further development of import substitution will depend on how successful Russian Government can overcome difficulties connected with business credit, lack of skilled personnel, obligations of the country as part of World Tourism Organization (WTO) membership. At the same time, such factors can be successful as availability of primary resources and its relative cheapness, technological potential accumulated in defense industry and in space exploration that can be used in civil industries.