the banking system and served as an indirect promotion of collective irresponsibility of a number of bankers, who have provoked the banking crisis.
Recent history of «carry trading» in fact displays the scenario of the banking crisis in 1998. Since 2003, the banks began to accumulate rapidly the imbalance between the liabilities in foreign currency and the amount of their foreign currency assets. Banks were actively borrowing in foreign currency and investing the funds in ruble assets, primarily in the form of consumer and mortgage credits, bond market and state-owned companies crediting. As of seven months of 2008 results, the amount of foreign exchange liabilities have exceeded the currency balance sheet of banks by 9,4 per cent. This was almost two times more than the indicator on the eve of the 1998 crisis. In a number of major banks this imbalance is much greater. This makes a very serious crisis of the banking system real. Only now, instead of the RUR devaluation, the trigger of the crisis can be the crisis of confidence in the global financial market.
Fig. Превышение (+) и дефицит (-) иностранных активов банков над пассивами (доля % от стоимости активов (пассивов) банков) 246,5 8,9 7,6,6 5,4,2,1,1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 мес.
-1,4 --2,-5,-4,-30,30,-8,19,8 -9,-9,5,7,7,4,--7,-5,8 -2,3,-12 -8,5 -6,8 -Превышение (+); дефицит (-) доли иностранных активов над пассивами Изменение номинального курса доллара в рублях Surplus (+) and deficit (-) of the banks’ foreign currency reserves versus their assets (% share of the banks’ assets (liabilities) USD exchange rate dynamics, % Foreign currency Surplus (+), deficit (-) versus liabilities Nominal USD exchange rate against RUR Source: Bank of Russia data.
The imbalance between foreign currency liabilities and assets of banks demonstrates serious problems in the area of supervision and regulation of banking activities. The question arises, how was it possible, in the situation of various regulations, governing financial stability, to accumulate such an imbalance in the Russian banking system, which at any time can cause a systemic financial crisis In the current crisis, as the existing first experience shows, the government, like in 1998, will attempt to rescue the banks, which were borrowing from foreign resources, neglecting all the risks and allocated them to finance risky projects (consumer credits, the garbage bonds and shares, etc.). Collective irresponsibility of some business community representatives, just like 10 years ago, is encouraged by government resources.
Another negative consequence of «carry trading» strategy for the national market is the maintaining of low rates on resources borrowing in the domestic market below the inflation level, which is weakening the competitiveness of domestic institutional investors (investment and pension funds, insurance companies), the funding of which is performed in RUR, and therefore they are unable to benefit from «carry trading». In the background of the total market capitalization of RUR bonds in 2007 in the amount of RUR 2.7 trillion, the volume of co-op investment funds amounted only to RUR 14.6 billion.
Despite the rapid growth of bond markets in the period of «carry trading», the value of the co-op investment funds bonds has increased only from RUR 2.1 billion in 2003 to RUR 14,6 billion in 2007.
Herewith, their share in total co-op investment funds assets for the same period has declined from 2.per cent to 2.0 per cent.
Изменение курса доллара, % Possibilities of Russia’s Participation in Preferential Trading Agreements with non-CIS Countries A. Pakhomov At present about 20 foreign countries and regional trading unions suggest the Russian Federation to sign the agreements on free trade (zone of free trade). Russia does not have enough experience of with the conducting of the negotiations with non-CIS countries on preferential trading regimes, and this is why this problem requires profound analysis taking into account the specific features of these agreements and national economic and political interests.
In the past decade a significant increase in the number of bilateral and regional preferential trading unions has been observed, their number being a bit less than one hundred at the end of last century. As on September 2008, out of 380 regional trading and economic agreements (223 of which had come into effect), notified by the World Trade Organization, only 13 organizations declared the creation of customs unions, and other belong to the category of the agreement on the zones of free trade.
There is nearly one half of the global goods turnover taking place within the framework of the agreements on free trade and preferential zones. The total number of the preferential trading agreement will increase up to 400 by 2010 according to the forecast of the WTO Secretariat and about 10% of them will be declared as customs unions.
The conclusion of such agreements is not the goal itself but an instrument to support the development of the national economies in the era of globalization. It is obvious that in the foreseeable future Russia will face the problem of conclusion of preferential trading agreements with non-CIS countries.
A number of foreign countries has already claimed the intention to sign agreements on preferential regime of interaction with Russia, which requires more thorough analysis and preparation. And even closer attention should be paid to the choice of the potential partners from the non-CIS countries for conclusion of the agreements on free trade and on creation of the free trade zones.
At present the Russian Federation has already got various arrangements with nearly 20 countries (both developed and developing) and regional unions concerning discussion of the issue in question. It should be noted that the number of those wishing to have duty-free trading regime with Russia is constantly growing.
The list of foreign countries and regional groups that have come with the initiative for preferential trading agreements conclusion with Russia in recent years is widely varied by the level of their social and economic development, the intensity of the trading interaction with Russia and the geographic range. Among them several groups of countries may be singled out:
- at bilateral level – Asian, African and Latin American countries (about 20 countries in total);
- EU countries and countries of European Free Trade Association (at multilateral level);
- in the context of the widened dialog partnership Russia – Association of Southeast Asian Nations (10 member countries) the possibility of elaborating preferential trading (goods and services) agreements in future and investment agreement with Russia;
- within the framework of broadened agenda of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation the possibility for formation of the Agreement on the Asia-Pacific Zone of Free Trade between 21 countries of the forum, including Russia, is examined.
It should be taken into account that the Russian party has not had the experience of conducting negotiations on the agreements on free trade with non-CIS countries so far. In contrast, the majority of the partner countries have highly professional negotiating teams and have experience in concluding such agreements with different groups of countries.
When considering the issue on creation of a free trade zone and other preferential trading regimes with Russia participating it seems reasonable to base on the following macroeconomic considerations:
1. The conclusion of the agreement on the preferential trading regime with a particular non-CIS country (group of non-CIS countries) should be primarily based on the considerations of economic reasonability and stimulate qualitative development of the foreign economic potential of Russia. This suggests the conduction of the systematic analysis of the balance of benefits and losses for the Russian economy on the whole and its branches in particular, as well as for its foreign economic operations (perhaps on the basis of several scenarios).
At the same time it should be taken into account that the modern agreements on the free trade envisages not only the traditional regulations on reduction or abolition of the customs duties, but also the agreements on liberalization of the services trade, mutual investment, as well as harmonization of legislations and law enforcement in some spheres of the economy. The broadening of the fields investigated requires long-term and quite deep investigation.
It seems that the global financial and economic crisis will not allow conducting such a thorough macroeconomic analysis and forecast and balance calculation in the forthcoming future, and it also complicates the realization of the middle-term priorities and initiatives in the field of the foreign economic policy on the whole.
2. It should be taken into account that Russia is at the final stage of the accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). At this stage the negotiations the formation of the number of liabilities that will be the basis for the international and legal liabilities of the Russian Federation in the foreign economic sphere.
That is why from the formal legal point of view the full scale participation in the agreements on the free trade or the creation of the zones of free trade can start only after Russia’ accession to the WTO and fixation of the basic conditions of its membership (liabilities) in this organization, primarily concerning the access to the goods and services markets, as well as system issues.
The start of the negotiations on the preferential trading regimes at the concluding stage of the negotiations on accession to the WTO seems counterproductive and can result in additional liabilities on liberalization of the economy and foreign not to the Russia’s best interests, and can make a negative precedent (giving the exception from the most favored nation treatment for the third parties).
3. At the present stage one of the main directions of the foreign economic policy of the Russian Federation is still the formation of the integrated Eurasian economic space with its center in Russia. In the period up to 2010 it is the formation of the Customs union (Russia, Belorussia and Kazakhstan participating) that will be the priority and in the middle-term prospect – the creation of the single economic space within the Eurasian Economic Collaboration as well as the creation of the combined financial institutions of development and the strengthening of multilateral economic collaboration in CIS on the whole.
Within the framework of the Customs Union a fundamentally new regulatory and legal base and tools in customs and tariffs sphere will be created. Under these conditions it is the supranational institution (Customs union committee) that will act as a subject of the agreements on free trade and zones of free trade after 2010, and to this body the issues on the sovereignty of the members of the Custom Union in the field of the foreign economic regulation will be delegated partially.
That is why the rigid synchronization of the process of the Customs Union formation (as a subject of new agreement) with the possible negotiations on preferential trading regimes with non-CIS countries is necessary. And that is why Russia, as it seems, will require some time to elaborate mutual activity with its partners in the Customs Union concerning the realization of the joint foreign economic policy.
Simultaneous conduction of negotiations with non-CIS countries on the [prospects for the liberalization of the trading regime may substantially reduce the economic and political effect to Russia from the development of the integration processes in the post-Soviet space. Besides that, new research, calculations need to be conducted as well as it is necessary to reach corresponding agreements with the partners in the Customs Union taking into account the benefits and losses of the economy and the branches of all its member-countries.
4. When considering the issue on the advisability of the concluding of the agreements on free trade or on the creation of the regional preferential trading zones between Russia and non-CIS countries, one should first of all develop a thought-out position on this issue on the whole and choose the potential partners conscientiously.
An erroneous choice due to “political advisability” or interests in broadening of “strategic partnership” is quite likely to result in the direct losses of the economy and trade and economic security of the country. In this connection it is necessary to adopt well-grounded decisions in order to achieve the maximum result. In this case the realization of the political approaches and the involvement of the administration resources may not give the effect expected and the goals set will not be reached.
It is necessary to approach carefully the choice of the first “piliot” non-CIS country to start the negotiations on free trade (it should be taken into account that even the USA started the conclusion of such agreements with Jordan, which was not the partner of the first priority).
As a result it is the elaboration of the negotiation position that plays the key role as well as real estimations of the possibilities for its realization by the Russian team of negotiators, taking into account their experience and professional qualification;
5. It seems possible to continue at the first stage of the negotiations the formation of the specific research groups with separate partner countries concerning the study of the advisability on conclusion of the agreements on free trade or free trade zones.
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