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Average monthly prices on nickel and copper in April decreased in comparison with March 2004 by 6.2 percent and 3.3. percent correspondingly and the price of aluminum went up by 4.5 percent. In comparison with December 2003 prices on copper and aluminum grew up by 34.4 percent and 11.percent correspondingly and the price of nickel wend down by 8 percent.

Table 1.

Average world prices in April of a corresponding year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 Oil (Brent), 21,32 17,22 13,92 15,72 22,97 26,26 25,81 24,79 33,USD/barrel Natural gas, USD/1 1,966 2,548 2,187 3,052 5,200 3,408 5,390 5,mln. Motor gasoline, 0,707 0,455 0,378 0,391 0,808 0,999 0,814 0,855 1,USD/gallon Copper, USD/t 2574,9 2369,7 1775,3 1539,9 1710,1 1689,4 1620,8 1598,5 2950,Aluminum, USD/t 1590,2 1554,0 1413,5 1318,0 1448,0 1493,7 1370,3 1332,8 1734,Nickel, USD/t 8053,9 7312,.4 5352,5 5239,5 9657,1 6303,1 6940,6 7915,3 12872,Source: calculated using data of London Metal Exchange (Great Britain, London), International Oil Exchange (London) By the end of April the real ruble exchange rate to the US dollar surpassed the level of December 2003 by 5.3 percent and surpassed the same indicator of the previous year by 17.4 percent. In this connection GDP in January-April increased by 8 percent in comparison with the corresponding period of 2003. High purchasing power of the ruble in relation to the dollar and revenue growth in the economy objectively contributed to higher imports level.

Trade volumes between Russia and CIS countries constituted in April of the current year a sum of 3.97 billion dollars. Distinctive feature of April was excess in one and a half times of import growth rates (growth rates in comparison with April 2003 constituted 127.9 percent) over the export growth rates (growth rates constituted 145.6 percent). However, Russia maintains debit balance in foreign trade, which amounted to 0.45 billion dollars.

In June Gazprom announced plans of reducing its export supplies to CIS countries due to outstanding liabilities for deliveries on preferential terms. As before Byelorussia is leading on liability volume. Deliveries to Byelorussia were stopped this year and were renewed on the basis of short-term agreements and at the price of $US50 per cubic meter. This price surpasses the domestic price level, which equals $US30 per cubic meter. Note that the price of Russian natural gas on the European market surpasses $US120 per cubic meter. Only in June an agreement was finally reached on conditions for gas deliveries till the end of 2004.

Ukraine also will receive less amount of natural gas this year due to the fact that gas transportation consortium of the two countries does not function so far, which highly impedes the deliveries. It is also planned to reduce gas deliveries to Georgia. Gas export to this country is wholly loss making.

In the course of the June negotiations between heads of governments of Russia and Ukraine issues related to the creation of the single economic space by four largest CIS countries was discussed. Besides, for the first time an agreement was reached on transition to collecting VAT in the country of destination in export of oil products to Ukraine (at present VAT is collected in Russia as well) a year earlier then was plannedfrom January 2005.

Recently a regular meeting of representatives of customs organizations of Russia and Kazakhstan took place. For the first five months of 2004 mutual goods turnover grew by 45 percent, which was the result of a constructive cooperation of customs organizations of the two countries. At the meeting issues of unification of customs control were analyzed as well as attention was paid to the development of a model customs code for CIS countries and basic Eurasian customs legislation.

In June 2004 were enacted Federal laws, which play an important role in regulating foreign economic activity: On Foundations of State Regulation of Foreign Economic Activity and On Currency Regulation and Currency Control. These laws passed expert evaluation and were acknowledged as corresponding WTO norms.

The law On Foundations of State Regulation of Foreign Economic Activity specifies definitions of main concepts (foreign economic activity, import, export, etc.), introduces a number of new (transit, free trade zone, customs union). The law contains provisions relating to the division of state regulation of foreign economic activity in the sphere of foreign trade of goods, services and intellectual property.

The law contains new provisions on regulation of foreign trade barter deal and on before shipping inspection. The law introduces new order for applying retaliatory measures.

This law establishes foundations of state regulation of the foreign economic activity on the basis of customs-tariff and non-tariff methods, which include the following measures: set and revoke import and export customs dues and duties; set and cancel bans and limitations of international trade of goods, services and intellectual property; set and cancel measures of economic and administrative character, which contribute the development of foreign economic activity; signing international trade agreements and agreements on customs unions, free trade zones, regional economic integration, stimulation and protection of investments.

The law brings Russian legislation in this sphere in compliance with provisions of Articles I, III, V, XI, XIII, XXIV GATT-94, as well as with WTO Agreements on procedures related to import licensing and prior shipping inspection.

The law also contains norms related to bans and limitations envisaged in Articles XX XXI GATT94. Special provisions of the law are directed at securing transparency according to Article X GATT94.

One of principal tasks of the present period dedicated to the realization of provisions of the Federal Law On Foundations of State Regulation of Foreign Economic Activity in part of application of measures of non-tariff regulation became the development of new normative legal acts and introduction of changes and amendments to the acting legal acts.

The law On Currency Regulation and Currency Control excludes precious metals out of the list of currency values, which envisages liberalization in this sphere and brings legislation in this sphere in compliance with Article XX GATT-94.

The law also determines the period for canceling current restrictions, a list of capital transactions was cut that require permission of the Bank of Russia taking into account international agreements signed by the Russian Federation including Article VIII of an agreement with IMF.

The list of non-commercial transactions attributed to current currency operations was considerably widened. This list is an open one, which represents a possibility for further liberalization of currency legislation and securing its transparency.

N. Volovik, N. Leonova Outcomes of applying variable import tariff on sugar market Variable import tariff is a relatively new tool of customs regulation in Russia. This year it was applied for the first time for regulating import of raw sugar. From now on the import duty on raw sugar depends on the price set at the New York Board of Trade. The objective for applying this mechanism was to mitigate world market fluctuations on the domestic market: the higher is the world price the lower is the duty, and vice versa lower world prices are leveled off by higher import duty. Such an import constraint scheme has been effective for over 6 months and some conclusions can already be made about its efficiency.

Beginning from 2003 the world prices for raw sugar were sliding down. In last December the exchange price fell to the record low level: after equaling 6 cents per pound at the beginning of the month it dropped to 1.52 cents per pound at its end (Picture 1). Such a sharp fall was due to exchange speculations. This didnt wait to affect the Russian sugar market protection. According to the Russian law the average exchange price in a certain month determines the size of import duty on raw sugar two months later. Thus the low price for it in December shaped quite a high customs tariff in February.

The troublesome situation was mitigated only by the fact that an upper trend became obvious as late as March while in February exchange price for raw sugar remained still relatively low (Picture 2). Otherwise the high import tariff combined with the growing world prices (which was the case in March) would have made import of raw sugar unduly costly.

So, the result of 2-month span in calculating import duty on raw sugar is that its size (based on the world price that established 2 months ago) cannot correspond to the current price situation on the world market. Two months is quite a long period for the exchange price trend to change radically.

Source: http://www.nybot.com/.

Picture 1. Prices for raw sugar at the New York Board of Trade in 2003-170 100 Exchange price SBKPrice after effective tariff (time span - 2 months) SBKPrice after estimated tariff* (time span - 1 month) SBK* - an estimated tariff is the one calculated on the basis of price for raw sugar that established at the New York Board of Trade in the preceding month.

Source: data of Russian Sugar Information, own calculations.

Picture 2. Variable import duty on raw sugar The new lever does not attain its main goal it does not protect the domestic market from unstable world market situation. Initially, it was targeted at maintaining the raw sugar support price at a fixed level (470 USD per ton) resulting from correlation between the exchange price and the import tariff. If we follow this scheme and draw a graph of theoretically estimated import price for raw sugar, being a sum of exchange price and import duty (for simplifying the calculation the supply basis is considered constant and equaling 0), well see that, on the opposite, the use of variable import tariff intensifies the effect of world market fluctuations on the Russian market. Within a month they grow by the size of import duty, but as a following month begins and a new size of duty is set, the price changes dramaticents per pound price, USD per ton price after tariff, USD per ton 1,2,1,1,1,1,1,1,2,2,2,2,2,3,3,3,3,3,3,3,4,4,4,4,4,4,cally (Picture 2). Duties calculated on the basis of exchange price for raw sugar in the preceding month (as different from the legally specified 2-month span) are also unable to cope with the task. The point is that intervals set for establishing the import tariff and the average monthly price at the commodity exchange do not coincide: tariff may grow faster or slower than the exchange price. The result are leaps of import price for raw sugar.

More positive conclusions can be made if one examines the effect of variable duty not on the theoretically estimated but on the actual average import price on the Russian market. As mentioned above, theoretically it is a sum of the world price and the supply basis. But in fact the price for imported raw sugar is shaped somewhat differently. While the exchange price in January-February did not exceed 140 USD per ton, the actual import price for raw sugar in February was as high as 361 USD per ton. It was this high import price and not higher duty that served the basic cause of the sharp drop (by 92% as compared with February 2003) of raw sugar import supplies in February.

The lack of statistical data forbids ultimate conclusions but the 3-month foreign trade indicators still demonstrate some smoothening of import price month after month given the effective import duty.

However, better result could be achieved if applying a duty calculated on the basis of exchange price in the preceding month. In this case the effect could be almost double (Picture 3).

average import price for raw sugar after applying the effective duty (time span - 2 months) after applying the estimated duty (time span - 1 month) February March ---Source: data of the State Customs Committee, own calculations.

Picture 3. Change of the average import price for raw sugar, as % of the previous month It should be pointed out that the different sugar trade regime for the CIS countries undermines the effect of import constraints. In January-February imports of sugar from these countries (that account for 90% of the total sugar supplies to Russia) were 53% above the corresponding previous year indicator.

Besides, similarly to any other mechanism of foreign trade regulation the new scheme wont be efficient unless two key problems are solved: 1) stopping of grey imports from the CIS countries and 2) simultaneous regulation of import of substituting sugar products. So far, neither the first nor the second problem is solved at the government level. This led to the building of large stocks of sugar in the country and, consequently, to the sharp drop of price for it. As a result the gross output of sugar industry is decreasing despite growth in all other industries including the food one. In January-May 2004 production of granulated sugar was down 27% while the average industrial growth rate amounted to 7% and the output of food industry expanded by 9.1%. Its worth noting that sugar industry declines for the third successive year beginning from 2002 its output falls by 5-6% annually.

The non-stability of trade regime in 2003 also resulted in smaller areas planted in sugar beets an almost 10% decrease according to the data of RF State Committee for Statistics.

The outcome of all these negative trends in the sector and the imperfection of applied variable duty mechanism was that market agents again started to demand import quotas for raw sugar. Similar to the previous years, the stumbling stone is the principle of distributing quotas between market operators.

Their auction sale led to higher prices (see our previous surveys). At the same time distribution of quotas according to the historic or production principle violates interests of either one or another group of companies (some companies are primarily importers and do not have their own sugar beets production they lose in case of applying the production principle; other companies are engaged in growing of beets but do not have an import history they lose in case of applying the historic principle). The compromise hasnt been reached as yet15.

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