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And it was at the same time as the employment dynamics and the forecasts of its change were more favorable than at anytime before. Within three quarters of 2006 the enterprises managed to increase the number of the staff. The only exception was the beginning of the year when the industry traditionally loses many employees who have decided to change the employer with the beginning of the new calendar year. The similar situation arose in the beginning of 2007. The balance of responses to the question of real change in the number of employed was again negative (i.e. more employees left the enterprises, than were taken), but the value of the balance (-3) seems negligible in comparison with the beginning of 2006 (-19) or 2005 (-15). As a result the industry was able to reduce the shortage of employees. The balance of estimation of sufficient number of staff in connection with the expected changes in demand increased from 13 balance points in the second half of 2006 to 5 balance points in the beginning of 2007. In other words, the industry still has not got enough staff, but the shortage is smaller than half a year ago.

In January the stocks of finished commodities remained at the level of December: nearly two thirds of enterprises consider their stocks accumulation as normal, among others the estimation above the norm is prevalent, though insignificantly (as it was in December - by 5 b.p.). By the majority of enterprises the stocks of raw materials are also considered as normal. In January the number of such estimations reached 67% (the year ago it was 60%). But among other enterprises the responses below the norm are prevalent, i.e. the industry still suffers from insufficient provision of raw materials. However, now the balance of estimations is the best over the whole period of monitoring (9 b.p.), while in 1995 it fell below 74 balance points.

The forecasts of demand for the next few months preserved high optimism of the end of 2006. The intensive growth of sales will start in all branches of industry. The most optimistic prognosis were recorded in machine engineering (+42 b.p.), the most reserved in light industry (+13 b.p.). The production plans of enterprises also changed but little: the output will grow, grow in all sectors and grow intensively. The leader once again will be machine engineering, the last position will be held by non-ferrous metallurgy and light industry.

S.V.Tsukhlo Foreign Trade The sustaining favorable situation at the world market as well as the growth in the effective demand both of the population and of the domestic manufacturers had a positive impact on the development of the foreign-economic activity in the course of all 2006.

The Russian Federation has nearly concluded the negotiations with the WTO members. The agreement is not signed only with Georgia and Guatemala.

In November 2006 Russian foreign trade turnover, calculated by the balance-of-payments methodology increased by 20.5% up to USD 41.8 bln. in comparison with previous years data for November.

The volume of Russian export supply in November 2006 was equal to USD 25.6 bln., which is 14.9% higher than in the same month of the preceding year. Russian import supply in the same period grew up by 30.7% up to the figure of USD 16.2 bln.. The growth rates of the export value volumes slowed down significantly in comparison with the previous year, which is accounted for by the deceleration in prices growth of the main assortment positions.

The foreign trade balance of the Russian Federation in November 2006 was positive, equal to USD 9.bln., decreased as compared with the positive balance of the same month of 2005 by USD 9.9 bln..

In November 2006 export from Russia, excluding CIS countries, grew by 14.9% up to USD 22.1 bln., to the countries of CIS by 14.8% up to USD 3.5 bln.

In November 2006 import supply to Russia from foreign countries, excluding CIS countries, increased by 32.8% up to USD13.8 bln., from CIS countries by 19.9% up to USD2.4 bln.

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Balance Export Import Source: Central Bank of the Russian Federation FIGURE 1. Main indices of the Russian foreign trade (as USD bln.) The expansion of Russian export supply volumes was achieved chiefly thanks to the growth of contract prices due to the favorable situation at the world market. According to the Bank of Russia estimations in January-November 2006 the world prices, with due account taken of the structure of Russian export by the set of goods, making up approximately 80% of its cost, were 22% higher than in the similar period of 2005.

In November 2006 the oil prices growth at the world market recommenced. The main factors of price growth were the reduction of OPEC oil production since the 1 November by 1.2 millions of barrels a day, lower than expected growth of crude oil reserves in the USA accompanied by the significant decrease in oil products reserves in the USA and Europe, as well as the decrease in oil production in Nigeria due to the aggravation of the situation in the country.

The faster oil price growth was impeded by the increase in crude oil reserves in the USA, relatively warm weather conditions in both hemispheres as well as the reduction in the estimate of oil consumption growth rates in 2006, made by the International Energy Agency.

In November 2006 the average price for three oil grades (Brent, Dubai and West-Texas Intermediate) went up by 0.4% (up to USD 58.1 per barrel) in comparison with the previous month, oil grade Urals rose in price by 0.8% (up to USD 55.3 per barrel). In January-November 2006 the average oil price was 21.7%, oil grade Urals - 22.1% higher than in the corresponding period of 2005.

Mai Mai Mai Mai Mai Mai Mai Septem Septem Septem Septem Septem Septem Septem January January January January January January January The average price of Russian oil grade Urals being USD 56.72 per barrel in November-December, the Government of the Russian Federation fixed the export duty rate for oil at the level of USD 179.7 per ton since the 1 February 2007. Duties for light oils are fixed at the rate of USD 133.4 per ton, for dark oils at the rate of USD 71.8.

It should be remembered, that since December 2006 export customs duties for crude oil were lowered from USD 237.6 to USD180.7 per ton. The duties for light oils were lowered to USD134 per ton, for dark oils - to USD 72.2.

In November 2006 the oil products price dynamics was of discrepant character. In comparison to the previous month the price for diesel oil went down by 1%, for fuel oil by 2%, the price for premium petroleum went up by 2.4%. In January- November 2006 the prices for oil products were in average higher than in the corresponding period of 2005 (premium petroleum was more expensive by 18%, diesel oil by 15%, fuel oil by 30%).

In November 2006 prices for natural gas rose in Europe by 0.2%, in the USA by 25% in comparison with the previous month. In January-November 2006 in comparison with the corresponding period of the natural gas rose in price by 36% in Europe, went down in price by 21% in the USA.

In comparison with the previous month in November 2006 world prices for the products of Russian fuel and energy complex increased by 0.3%, being 25% higher in January-November 2006 than in the corresponding period of 2005.

Prices for ferrous metals in November 2006 went down by 3.7% in comparison with the previous month.

In January-November 2006 as compared with the corresponding period of 2005 ferrous metals fell in price by 2.3%.

The non-ferrous metals price dynamics in November was in many respects accounted for by the change in the amount of their reserves at London Metal Exchange. The amount of copper reserves, in particular, having increased more than in 1.7 times, reached maximum since the beginning of the year, which is due to the slow-down in demand growth for this metal in the USA and China, which are the main copper consumers.

Nickel reserves at London Metal Exchange also grew up significantly, aluminum reserves continued reducing. The non-ferrous metals market was also influenced by the dynamics of USD exchange rate in comparison with the leading world currencies and by the situation at the market of energy carriers.

In comparison with the previous month, in November 2006 aluminum went up in price by 1.7%, copper fell in price by 6.6%, nickel - by 3.8%. In January-November 2006 prices for non-ferrous metals were higher than in January-November 2005, copper being 1.9, nickel 1.6, aluminum 1.4 times more expensive.

Table 1.

Average Monthly World Prices in November of the Respective Year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Oil (Brent), USD/bbl 22,8 17,8 11,5 24,1 25,6 19,35 24,4 28,6 43,1 55,0 57,Natural gas, USD /1 mln BTU 3,093 2,393 2,251 2,558 5,767 2,843 4,11 4,876 6,533 9,403 15,Petroleum, USD /gallon 0,6691 0,5648 0,3739 0,6986 0,7649 0,5454 0,7203 0,845 1,289 1,801 1,Copper, USD /ton 2273,3 1834,7 1601,6 1748,1 1914,4 1481,0 1610,0 2052,0 3123,0 4269,0 7002,Aluminum, USD/ton 1459,9 1535,5 1305,0 1470,7 1562,5 1326,6 1373,4 1507,0 1814,0 2051,0 2704,Nickel, USD /ton 6920,0 6099,0 4202,0 7984,2 7315,4 5159,7 7316,7 12090 14026 12116 Source: calculated on the basis of London Metal Exchange, International Petroleum Exchange (London) data Owing to the favorable situation at the world market, over eleven months of 2006 the value volume of Russian export exceeded the figures of the past 17 years and was equal to USD 274.5 bln., which is 25.3% higher than in the corresponding period of the previous year..

In 2006 Russian import also reached maximum for the past 17 years. Over 11 months of 2006 goods worth USD 144.4 bln. were imported, which exceeds the corresponding figure for 2005 by 29.6%.

The high growth rates of import supplies were supported by the increase in the available active population income, being 10.1% in January-November 2006 as compared with the corresponding period of 2005. In October and November 2006 the growth of the available active population income slowed down, remaining though at the level of 2005 (in October - by 8.8%, in November - by 7.7%).

Ruble appreciation continued to have a positive impact on import growth. According to the Ministry of the Economic Development and Trade calculations, the real Ruble appreciation rate against dollar was 1.6%, depreciation against euro 0.35%. In general in the period of January-November the real appreciation of Ruble against dollar was 14.1%, against euro 6.2%. The weakening of the integral index real effective Ruble rate is estimated to be 0.1% in November, in January-November on the whole its appreciation being 7.8%.

Since May 2006 the tendency of growth rates of import to Russia anticipating the growth rates of Russian export is observed. While in the 1st quarter of 2006 the export supply grew up by 34. 5% as compared with the corresponding period of the previous year, the import supply - by 23.5%, in the 2nd quarter their growth rates were almost equal 28.6 29.1, correspondingly, and in the 3rd quarter the export growth rates were behind the import figures 23.1 and 31.6, correspondingly. In November 2006 this lag increased: as compared with November 2005 export grew up by 14.9%, while import - by 30.7%.

The trade balance growth rates declined as a result. While over 11 months of 2004 as compared with the corresponding period of 2003 the balance grew by 43.1%, over 11 months of 2005 by 38.5%, over months of 2006 it grew only by 20.8%.

On 24 January 2007, in Geneva Russia and the Republic of Costa-Rica signed the protocol on bilateral negotiations completion in the context of Russias accession to WTO. On 23 January a similar protocol was signed with Salvador Georgia is the only country with which Russia has not concluded bilateral negotiations on the subject of WTO.

In the autumn of 2006 the multilateral negotiations on Russias accession to WTO were suspended upon the request of Georgia. After consultations Georgia took off its embargo on negotiation process.

As a result of negotiations with Georgia, carried out in WTO framework on 25 January 2007, Georgia waived all its claims for Russia except one. The issue, connected with the operation of check-points in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, remains unsolved. This claim Georgia considers as the consequence of Russian liabilities in bilateral agreement on Russias accession to WTO, which was completed in 2004. As a result of the negotiations the resolution to exchange legal agreements on the subject of the check-points operation at the borders, to give evidence to Georgian party of our customs procedures conformity with WTO regulations, and to make clear the legal character of Georgian claims concerning our bilateral agreements was made. Next meeting of delegations is scheduled for the end of February, 2007.

Besides the issues of checkpoints operation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia also brought up a subject of wine and mineral water supplies to Russia. In the spring of 2006 the supplies of wine and mineral water to Russia were banned in accordance with the resolution of the Federal Supervision Service for Consumers Right Protection because of the quality complaints.

Besides Georgia, Russia has to sign an agreement with Guatemala, with which all the issues of bilateral talks have already been adjusted.

After conclusion of bilateral negotiations with the WTO members, Russia has a forthcoming multilateral stage of negotiations on the subject of WTO accession, which will take approximately half a year. These negotiations will be devoted to determination of measures, which Russia will have to undertake in the sphere of legislation and law enforcement to perform its liabilities as a future member of the WTO. The basis of negotiations is the draft report of Russias accession to WTO Working Group, which is the key document, where rights and liabilities which Russia will assume as a result of negotiations will be stated.

N.Volovik The Law On agricultural development In December 2006 the President signed the Law On agricultural development the preparation of which had taken 4 years. The Law enforces a new procedure of shaping the federal agrifood policies making them more transparent, democratic and consistent.

After four years of Russian agrarian establishments continuous work on Law On agricultural development, it has at last been adopted by the State Duma and signed by the President (on December 29, 2006).

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