International competitive bidding (tenders) is a very common tool of modern international trade practiced by state and non-state organisations of both developed and new industrial and developing countries. Diplomatic support for international competitive bidding (ICB) is provided mainly by developed countries. The legislation of many countries in relation to government procurement establishes certain rules for this process. Financial institutions also introduce certain rules for procurement using funds issued by them as loans. In particular, the procedures for purchasing goods and drafting contracts for the contract works and services established by the World Bank are the most famous and widely used in the world. Large corporations dealing with dozens and hundreds of suppliers of raw materials and components also often establish their own internal rules for procurement and orders placing. As the international practice of competitive bidding shows, the use of tenders leads to saving up to 40% of the planned funds and contributes to corporate security, according to the author.
International bidding is often done for orders for contracts and deliveries of a wide variety of goods, works and services – from unique to widely used ones. For example, among the items of deals that were featured at international bidding, one can find such tenders as the supply of several packs of nails as well as a turnkey construction project of the largest industrial and civil facilities of our time.
The widespread international competitive bidding in modern conditions is facilitated by the fact that an increase in the scale of government orders requires impartiality in choosing a particular company as a supplier or contractor. The world trade practice knows cases when issued government contracts bypassed the bidding, which led to serious economic and political consequences. Recently, a lot of decisions have been made to improve the contract system in Russia: amendments to the law on the contract system have been made, competitive procedures have been simplified, the time to carry them out has been reduced, and additional barriers have been created for dishonest participants. Nevertheless, it is necessary to constantly improve the efficiency and transparency of the ICB, since trillions of rubles are spent on government procurement annually. At the Russian Federation Government meeting held on September 26, 2019, changes were discussed that would allow shutting down of the procurement practice from a single supplier, when the tender is declared invalid. It is known that dishonest buyers often use such schemes to cut off competitors and leave "their own" suppliers. That results in only one company participating in a tender, and it is recognised as the winner, since the tender had previously been declared invalid. Now such cases will be assessed by the Federal Antimonopoly Service. And a contract can be drafted only after its consent. These changes will affect only the contracts the starting price of which is determined by the government. And the procedure will be clearly defined in the new law .
Consulting firms play an important role in the ICB improvement. Tender structures are used to invite specialists from consulting firms for the process of preparing and conducting tenders. Such an approach to solving organisational tender problems is appropriate for cases where the buyer company does not have a sufficient number of employees, and staff expansion is impractical or impossible due to the absence of readily available qualified employees. Providing consulting services during preparation of international competitive tenders is of great importance for suppliers who are taking the first steps towards entering the market. Experienced professionals provide assistance at the stage of preparation for bidding or provide comprehensive support for the required period of time. This means providing legal services for participating in auctions, tenders, bidding or government procurement contracts. Consulting firms also provide legal support when the company files a complaint about unlawful actions of the buyer or other structures related to bidding.
In real situations, there are two options of consulting assistance for the duration of the ICB. First is selective assistance at a certain stage of bidding; second is comprehensive customer support throughout the entire tender. Selective option implies either non-recurring or permanent, but in any case it extends to the achievement of one specific goal. For example, the selection of a tender, assistance in the application process, etc. Comprehensive support implies assistance at all stages of bidding, and its amount is determined by the customer and their financial capabilities.
From that one can derive that consulting services are the most important area of ICB development. Now one can notice the growing role of consulting services in the development of international competitive bidding, which is of great importance for the development of small and medium businesses, and it helps them with investment advice for foreign trade activities .
ICBs are a progressive form of international trade that allows making the procurement process more open, efficient and economical. The ICB practice all over the world shows that this arrangement helps save budgetary funds and effectively fight corruption, and contributes to corporate security. A necessary condition for increasing the effectiveness of international trade is the modernisation of the regulatory framework, including the government procurement law .
In the modern economy, the state acts as the largest buyer and consumer of products all over different industries, which allows turning state demand into a powerful tool for regulating the economy, influencing its dynamics and structure to achieve strategic goals of the country's development. For example, the United States experience showed that the government procurement system is one of the most important tools for stimulating the innovative development of the American economy (the creation of the Silicon Valley). Therefore, it is important to note that Russian small and medium businesses develop formal tools that support and regulate international trade and economic relations at a very slow pace. Such tools include international bidding, opening up new opportunities for expanding the sales market and forging economic relations with foreign partners. One of the reasons restraining the participation of Russian small and medium businesses in international trade and economic relations is the lack of their own resources (human and material) to promote their products on the international market. On the other hand, many organisational and bureaucratic structures created in recent years do not yet have sufficient competence to provide effective support to small and medium businesses in these sectors. One of these sectors is international bidding. At the same time, it should be noted that the development of a system of international competitive bidding is an important condition for increasing the effectiveness of international government-private partnership projects and the competitiveness of the country as a whole .
The widespread use of bidding tools in international practice provides real incentives for the development of enterprises and firms with the best organisation of production and labor as well as a higher level of management. Oil and gas sector companies are such enterprises. Amid unstable oil and gas prices, degenerate deposits, extreme locations and new global business trends, oil and gas companies are looking for solutions to overcome these problems, including finding new procurement strategies. There is an intensive development of organisational subspecialisation, monopolistic structures are being broken up, too. Naturally, the tender procurement system is an active tool for the comprehensive integration of domestic industry in the global market for goods and services.
The problems of creating a competitive system of government procurement in Russia deserve special attention in connection with Russia's accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It is necessary that the laws, norms, procedures and methods of conducting government procurements in Russia comply with the WTO Government Procurement Agreement. In order to comply with it, the procurement of goods and services must be completely open (and cannot be limited to the procurement of goods and services only from countries that are WTO members), it also must be organised using international bidding model, if appropriate, and such bidding shall be truly competitive. The main directions of development of the ICB are: maximum disclosure of national procurement markets of government and municipal bodies for suppliers from other countries; unification and standardisation of tender procedures, tender documents and requirements for suppliers due to changes in the fundamental documents governing the ICB and the use of new technologies, in particular the Internet and electronic commerce possibilities. It is obvious that the general process of globalisation and world economic relations in particular has its effect on the ICB, allowing to maximise the advantages of competitive tools over traditional methods of organising procurement and placing orders on the world market of goods, works and services. For example, in 2019, the Australian mining energy group BHP announced the world's first tender for the supply of LNG fuel to transport up to 27 million tons of its iron ore exports to Asia with the goal of “eliminating emissions of nitric oxide and sulfur oxide and significantly reducing carbon dioxide emissions along the busiest mass transportation route in the world” . Speaking about the importance of the role of business in this sector, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin noted in his Address to the Federal Assembly: “Companies, especially large ones, are obliged to remember their social and environmental responsibility” .
ICBs provides the buyer with many advantages: the opportunity to save budgetary funds, to choose services with the best price-quality ratio, and to avoid corruption in the procurement process. At the same time, the service provider is guaranteed an order with a fixed payment. The winner of the tender becomes the leader in their market segment and thereby ensures the growth of their company. Participation and victory in the tender for manufacturers and suppliers is an impetus for further business development, it contributes to corporate security in the context of globalisation.
ICB opens up new opportunities for optimising procurement strategies, which in the context of globalisation and digitalisation of the world economy is a necessary condition for the competitiveness of the Russian Federation . The socio-economic nature of electronic commerce is inextricably linked with the globalisation of international economy . A necessary condition for competitive business also is the digitalisation of the economy. Digital technology plays a large part here. Digital Technologies is one of six federal projects included in the national Digital Economy program. The project is to be implemented until 2024. Financing for the implementation of the federal Digital Technologies began in late 2019. It is necessary to use ICB tools here to efficiently spend budget funds, as billions of rubles are involved.
The introduction of information and communication technologies (ICT) in the system of international and domestic trade in the context of globalisation and the Internet provides ICB participants with a number of opportunities: prompt decision-making based on the internal flow of information, expanding the circle of consumers, reducing the cost of customer service, collecting and analysing information about consumer preferences. The above benefits are of great value to companies. The leak of internal corporate information can cause unfair competition from other firms.
According to representatives of the international company Kaspersky Lab, which specialises in developing systems for protecting against cyber threats, today there are tens of thousands of hackers in the world. Each hacker community has a clear specialisation. The most impressive group in terms of the number of participants is financial cybercriminals, who seize the assets of banking structures, businesses and individuals. According to analysts, in 2019, losses from cybercrime in the global economy might reach $2 trillion. Currently, the existence of cybercrime is causing enormous damage to the Russian economy. According to Vladimir Novikov, Deputy General Director of Sberbank Insurance IC, 16 enterprises in Russia are subjected to cyber attacks daily .
In Russia, close attention is paid to cybersecurity issues. 96% of large companies in Russia plan to introduce new cybersecurity solutions in the next three years (VMware data). The first International Cybersecurity Congress (ICC), in which India participated, took place on July 5–6, 2018 in Moscow. Congress brought together over 2,200 participants from more than 50 countries. President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin took part in the ICC, and emphasised that in order to successfully combat cybercrime, it is necessary to develop effective international cooperation at the corporate level. It was decided to make this congress annual. In June 2019, the second ICC congress was held, during which OFFZONE, the international practical conference on cybersecurity, and Cyber Polygon, the world's first online cybersecurity training for the largest international companies, were held .
With at least half of the oil and gas companies worldwide exposed to cyberattacks, the responsibility of the corporate security service is growing significantly. The main objectives of hacker activity in the oil and gas sector are:
economic (preventing the flow of resources into international markets);
political (the use of cyberattacks for political purposes, for example, seizing technical means of control of an oil and gas company can lead to a violation of the environmental situation or create a threat to environmental safety).
The study of foreign and domestic experience of business enterprises in the field of corporate security and the market for services in this area is important for improving the activities of the corporate security service. Based on the analysis and summary of the foreign experience of corporate security structures, recommendations can be developed to improve approaches and methods to ensure the functioning of the company's security system .
Thus, an important aspect of the further development of electronic commerce is the issue of improving its protection system. This is necessary for the smooth functioning of the e-commerce platform, ensuring information security and safety, and protection against leaking confidential information containing commercial and production data. Improving the protection of commercial and production data in the electronic commerce system implies that measures must be taken both by companies and by the government.
Improving systems to combat information leakage can be worked out by companies collectively – through conferences and round tables. The joint development and acceptance by the business community of framework agreements aimed at creating an international system for monitoring the dishonest behavior of competing firms is an important and effective step in protecting the electronic commerce system. Maintaining a system for exchanging information about violators, the reputation of contractors and equipment suppliers is also seen to be effective. A requirement for protecting corporate information is taking the measures aimed at corporate staff. The information technology department should consist of highly qualified employees and specialists in the field of cybersecurity, who constantly improve their professional knowledge. The company shall undergo recurring inspections for dishonest staff members, as well as monitor the dismissed employees. The company must also aim to increase the loyalty of security personnel .
On the part of the government, measures to promote and improve the electronic commerce system may be such as updating legal norms that would prevent the leakage of information both in the course of business structures activity and in interaction with government institutions, primarily foreign, and improving legislation on liability of individuals who have leaked information constituting a commercial or production confidential data. The Russian regulatory framework in the field of the digital economy is in the process of reforming: in the summer of 2017, the Russian government approved the Digital Economy of the Russian Federation program. The program is designed to be implemented until 2024, 1.5 billion rubles have been allocated to improve the regulatory framework in the field of the digital economy .
Another area of e-commerce development is the use of cryptocurrency. The pioneer of the cryptocurrency is David Chaum. He invented cryptography for confidential payments in the DigiCash system, but in 1998 the company went bankrupt. This payment system was centralised . A new impetus to the development of cryptocurrency appeared as the decentralised payment system Bitcoin, which was developed in 2009 by an unknown programmer . Today, cryptocurrency is one type of digital currency. Its emission and accounting are based on various cryptographic methods, the functioning is decentralized in a distributed computer network. Cryptocurrency is a real software product, the growth rate of which depends on supply and demand, and not on subsequent investors.
The most popular cryptocurrency is Bitcoin (the generation of a decentralised digital currency that works only on the Internet). Next is Litecoin (a modified analog of Bitcoin), Ether (a platform that allows you to register any transactions with any assets on the basis of a distributed database of contracts such as blockchain (a distributed database that stores information about all transactions of system participants), without resorting to traditional legal procedures), Ripple (provides instant and direct transfer of funds between the two parties in any form, while the commission is set at a minimum level). In total, there are about 700 cryptocurrencies in the world .
It should be noted that Bitcoin, as the most popular currency in the cryptocurrency market, has some advantages compared to the national currencies for the ICB: unlimited possibilities of transactions; instant mobility; free access to information about all transactions, which prevents fraudulent schemes; operations without intermediaries; the impossibility of blocking the transfer by any organisation; non-collection of taxes when making a payment, as Bitcoin is not the national currency of any country; independence from inflationary processes; the ability to pay anyone, anywhere and for anything. The disadvantages of using Bitcoin are: the currency is not backed by anything but demand; the risk of a new separation of cryptocurrencies; a strong exposure of the Bitcoin exchange rate to news influence and market changes; lack of a single legal regime regarding cryptocurrency in a number of countries; lack of a proper system of protection against theft, loss and other risks. The last two disadvantages exclude the possibility of using Bitcoin as a form of payment in competitive bidding on the international stage. However, with the improvement of the protection of cryptocurrency and with the recognition of it by the laws of most countries, this type of payment would be possible.
The world in general has ambiguous attitude to cryptocurrency. For example, in some countries, Bitcoin is a legal instrument of payment (Japan, USA, Canada). A network of crypto-ATMs exists in these countries, and it is possible to pay for various services with Bitcoin . At the same time, in a number of countries, cryptocurrency circulation is either prohibited by law (Nepal, Bolivia, Bangladesh, Algeria), or there are restrictions on certain types of transactions (China, India, Russia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Ecuador, Iceland, Morocco, Malaysia). The legal status of cryptocurrencies in Russia is being discussed. The current draft law On Digital Financial Assets and amendments to the Civil Code of the Russian Federation provide for restrictions for unskilled investors, purchase and sale of cryptocurrency only at registered national sites, full deanonymisation of participants, mining (activities to create new structures to ensure the functioning of cryptocurrency platforms) are qualified as an entrepreneurial activity with the obligatory sale of what was mined on national exchanges. With all that, cryptocurrency is considered a digital asset, but not a form of payment, etc. Advertising is also prohibited on certain advertising platforms, for example, Yandex system .
The experience of Belarus, the union state, a close economic and political partner of Russia, should be noted. Transactions with tokens (cryptocurrency accounting units) and all types of cryptocurrencies were legalised in Belarus by a decree On the Development of the Digital Economy, which President Alexander Lukashenko signed on December 21, 2017. The decree allowed individuals to own tokens, buy and sell them for Belarusian rubles, foreign currency and electronic money, carry out mining, as well as give, exchange and give tokens in will . Moreover, on January 15, 2019, the first cryptocurrency exchange in Belarus was opened. On the Belarusian cryptocurrency exchange Currency.com, potential investors can buy or sell tokens and invest in traditional financial instruments using cryptocurrencies and ordinary money . It is possible to talk about the use of cryptocurrency in ICB only after it is legally approved by many countries. The advantages of this system are that it is transparent, safe and simplified, which will contribute to the improvement of ICB in the context of globalisation and digitalisation. The use of new technologies in the management of ICB is an important condition for the competitiveness of any country and, in particular, the Russian Federation.
Based on the trends in electronic commerce mentioned above – strengthening the protection of enterprises in the context of growing cybercrime and the use of cryptocurrency – one can conclude that both areas need to improve the legal framework and introduce the latest systems of protection against hacking, theft, loss and other risks. In the context of globalisation and digitalisation of the global economy, information is one of the most important resources of enterprises. The development and improvement of electronic commerce is a requirement for the competitiveness of any national economy.
The problem of ensuring the safety of enterprises, corporations, companies and firms in recent years has attracted more and more attention of scientists and specialists directly involved in production activities. The actualisation of the need to ensure the safety of such enterprises is due to an increasing set of destructive factors, threats and criminal attacks, causing concern for shareholders and corporate executives because of their negative impact on business results. The success of any enterprise has become directly dependent on its security.
Adverse factors and threats are generated by the complicated global economic relations, aggravated as a result of toughening Western economic sanctions, financial restrictions and the started trade war against our country, as well as unfair competition. But the potency of US sanctions and their effectiveness are exaggerated. The US could not even force North Korea to do anything. For decades, backed up by UN decisions, they organised the rigid blockade of this small country, which has virtually no natural resources. Russia is not North Korea. The Russian Federation has vast natural resources and economy that can guarantee self-sufficiency. It is important to note that this ability has greatly strengthened recently, including due to sanctions, the example of that is the Nord Stream.
The aggravating international situation and the difficult situation in the Russian economy do not contribute to the neutralisation of undesirable macroeconomic trends, the solution of internal problems and the successful development of Russian business. And here the role of economic diplomacy is great. So, for example, despite the fact that Russia and Turkey historically have competing goals in the Black Sea region, cooperation between the countries in the energy sector – the successful launch of the Turkish Stream – can be considered as an example of the successful use of one of the tools of economic diplomacy, the result of which, among others, may be a resolution of conflict in the geopolitical sphere .
The problem of effectively ensuring the security of the private sector of Russian economy in modern conditions is of national importance, since the ongoing projects of numerous corporations, firms and enterprises make a significant contribution to the gross domestic product being created in the country, especially corporations in the oil and gas sector. Therefore, the effective guarantee of corporate security not only creates favorable conditions for increasing the competitiveness and successful functioning of each enterprise, but also contributes to the sustainable socio-economic development of the country as a whole.
It should be noted right away that the task of enterprises to ensure their security, although independent, does not exist in isolation from government actions in the field of national security. Currently, such actions are being taken through the formation of a self-sufficient effective system that is constantly dynamic and improving, in accordance with the current situation and long-term predictions regarding world trends and features of the socio-economic development of the Russian Federation.
National security is ensured by a unified state policy in all spheres of public relations through the implementation of a system of measures of an economic, political, organisational and other nature, corresponding to existing and potential threats. With respect to the national security system, all other systems for ensuring the safety of government and society existence are subsystems. The provision of economic security realised through its subsystem is no exception. Its component is ensuring the security of the enterprise.
Corporate security of an enterprise is interpreted as the state of protection of the enterprise and its vital interests from internal and external threats, which ensures the successful operation of the enterprise and its sustainable development as a result of the integrated implementation of regulatory, legal, organisational, managerial, performance, technical, physical, preventive and propaganda measures.
Improving the organisation of economic processes has led to the introduction into the official political and economic vocabulary of a number of new concepts that are directly related to corporate security: economic security, national interests of the Russian Federation in the economic sector, threat to economic security, challenges to economic security, economic security risk, ensuring economic security.
An important component of integrated security is an early warning system about real and potential threats. The most effective results in detecting threats in the early stages are achieved with the arsenal of modern methods of information and analytical work, which provides for continuous search, collection of diverse information, its systematisation, generalisation and analytical processing. Data and analytical work allow to draw certain conclusions and make predictions. The data obtained is used in the planning process for countering threats in the near or distant future. In such a way conditions are created for working in proactive mode.
Since the mid-90s of the last century, a forgotten effective management tool, strategic planning, has been introduced into the practice of government management activity, the implementation of socio-economic development policy and ensuring national security of the Russian Federation. One of its important components is prediction. Strategic planning significantly expands the country's ability to more prudently use its domestic potential to achieve strategic goals, systematically solve nationwide large-scale problems, concentrate and rationally use the available limited resources, forces and means in the most important areas of socio-economic development and national security. Currently, a comprehensive regulatory framework for the implementation of strategic planning has been formed. It is most fully reflected in the federal law On Strategic Planning in the Russian Federation, signed on June 28, 2014 No.172-FZ .
One of the goals of strategic planning is to combine the interests of the domestic economy and its industries with the interests of private business. Unlike the Soviet historical past, strategic planning in a market economy is based on an indicative method. This is how an official term appeared that sometimes replaces “strategic planning” – indicative planning. This is advisory planning without directives, using tools of indirect regulation of economic development for national purposes with the help of incentive means: access to government procurement, tax benefits and preferences, low credit rates, the formation of free economic zones and priority territories with a favorable business regime.
The created strategic planning system and its regulatory framework are intended for use mainly in the public sector of the economy and can only indirectly affect private entrepreneurship. Today it can be argued that the elements of strategic planning began to introduce themselves gradually into the economic life of the entrepreneurial community. Many successful corporations develop predictions that make it possible to successfully navigate the world of business and take early steps to ensure security.
A number of leading companies in the oil and gas sector practice long-term development strategies that are based on projected findings. Strategies contain the main goals, objectives, directions and ways of business development, determine the need for financial, material, human and other resources necessary to achieve the intended results. One of the forms of implementation of long-term strategies is general strategic plans, entrepreneurial projects or business plans. Streamlining the activities of corporations to ensure their security is achieved through legal regulations. The legal framework includes three main blocks: legislation, by-laws, and departmental legal documents.
Legislation serves as an essential (fundamental) source for the formation of two other blocks of corporate security regulation – by-laws and departmental legal acts. The main legislative documents related to ensuring business security are:
The Constitution of the Russian Federation as the basis of the entire Russian legal system. In relation to the topic of this work, the provision of the Constitutional Law on guarantees to each citizen of the Russian Federation of rights and freedoms that may be limited for the purpose of economic security, protection of the legitimate interests of others, and ensuring the security of the state is important .
Federal constitutional laws serve as the foundation for building and specifying the entire complex of legal acts of the country. For example, Federal constitutional law On the Government contains  starting provisions on the role, place and functions of the highest executive bodies of the Russian Federation, including in the field of national security.
Federal laws regulate relations in the main areas of civil life. The most significant among them are the Federal laws On Security , On Defense , On Police , On Information, Information Technologies and the Protection of Information , On National Security Information , On the Law Enforcement Tactical Intelligence Operations in the Russian Federation , On Countering Terrorism , On the Private Detective and Security Activities in the Russian Federation .
Federal laws give corporations the right to organise their own security at their discretion, including the creation of their own security units with the appropriate functions and powers.
The second block, which regulates corporate security activities, is by-laws and regulations that are adopted in the development of laws in order to specify their actions in the relevant sphere of public relations. This series of legal acts should include the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation  and the Economic Security Strategy of the Russian Federation for the period until 2030 , approved by decrees of the President of the Russian Federation, as well as documents such as The Basics of State Policy in the field of ecological development of Russia until 2030  and the Doctrine of Information Security of the Russian Federation .
Thus, the National Security Strategy of the Russian Federation defines national interests, goals, tasks and measures in the field of domestic and foreign policy aimed at strengthening the national security of the Russian Federation and ensuring sustainable development of the country. The strategy is designed to consolidate the efforts of federal and regional government bodies and civil society institutions in order to achieve goals and solve tasks that were set.
The third block, regulating corporate security activities, is departmental legal acts that take into account the specifics and characteristics of enterprises. These include orders, regulations, instructions, provisions approved by company management that establish certain security measures (protection of objects, access control to objects and certain rooms, access to trade secrets, storage of secret documents and business information, protection of corporate intellectual property, transportation of material assets and financial resources, etc.). This category of legal documents includes sections of an employment contract that establish the personal responsibility of corporate employees for violations of labor discipline; written obligations of employees admitted to trade secrets about non-disclosure. The entire complex of departmental legal acts has an exclusively objective orientation, specifies the goals, ways, means and methods of solving problems, indicates the necessary measures and activities, responsible executors.
This article analysed the relationship between international competitive bidding (ICB) and corporate security in the oil and gas sector. The development of ICB and electronic commerce in the context of globalisation is shown. The advantages of international competitive bidding are considered. Trends in the development of electronic commerce are analysed, such as ensuring cybersecurity at enterprises in the oil and gas sector and the use of cryptocurrency in international competitive bidding. The article also reveals the most important aspects of the corporate security process in modern conditions. Given the industry-specific features of the functioning of oil and gas companies, the main elements of the strategy for building an integrated corporate security system for companies are formulated and analysed.
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Zaharov Aleksandr Nikolaevich,
professor, Doctor of Economics, professor of the Department of International and National Economics, Academy for Foreign Trade of the Ministry of Economic Development of Russia