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Alerting is a 6.8% reduction in production of household appliances, equipment and facilities at the beginning of the current year as compared to the period between January and May 2004. Given a high capacity of the Russian market, this gave a signal to foreign manufacturers of household appliances that they could increase their activity in Russia. Candy company ( Italy ) purchased Vesta plant ( at the city of Kirov ): investments in modernization of manufacturing facilities are estimated 10-30 ml Euro with an annual output of 300 thousand washing machines. LG Electronics company ( Korea ) started construction of four household appliances plants ( 100 ml US dollars of investments ) at the Moscow Oblast.

In general, one can state that the burst of domestic demand in the current year provides no dividends to the domestic economy. Russian manufacturing industry fails to compete with imported goods under a severely competitive environment.

. Izryadnova Foreign trade As before, the major indicators of the Russian foreign trade demonstrate high growth rates. Favorable state of affairs on the world market, as well as positive dynamics of the consumer demand stimulate considerable increase of both export and import deliveries.

Early in 2005, the state of affairs on the world markets of major Russian export commodities retained exceedingly favorable. In January-April 2005 the prices for energy sources were 1,4 times higher than in January-April 2004.

In June, the regular session of the working group on accession of Russia to the World Trade Organization (WTO) was held in Geneva.

In April 2005, the Russias foreign trade turnover, calculated according to the balance of payment methodology, made up USD 29.9 bn, which by 33,3% exceeds the same indicator of previous year.

The Russian exports reached USD 20.2 bn, which is by 37,2% greater than in April of last year. Export to non-CIS countries was USD 17.5 bn (which is by 40,7% greater than a year before).

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Balance Export Import Source: Central Bank of the RF Figure 1.Major Indices of the Russian Foreign Trade (bn dollars) In April 2005, the volume of import in the RF was USD 9,7 bn, which is by 26,7% greater than in April 2004. From the non-CIS countries there were imported goods for a total of USD 7.9 bn (by 31,5% greater than in April 2004). Accordingly, external trade surplus increased, reaching in April 2005 USD 10.5 bn, which by 50,1% higher than in April 2004.

Jul Jul Jul Jul Jul Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Apr Okt Apr Okt Apr Okt Apr Okt Apr Okt As before, the main reason for fast growth of export deliveries remains for Russian exporters an exceedingly favorable state of things on the world market.

By estimate of the Bank of Russia, the world prices with account of the Russian export structure as aggregated by goods, comprising about 70% of its cost, increased on average in April 2005, in comparison with previous month, by 0,8%. On the whole, for the four months of 2005, as compared with relevant period of 2004, price rose by 38,8%.

In April 2005 against March, the average oil prices of Brent decreased by 5,8% (to USD 50.6 a barrel), for Urals by 2,8% (to USD 46.9 a barrel). In January-April 2005, against the relevant period of 2004 the prices of Brent and Urals were on average higher by 46 and 48% correspondingly.

The prices of oil products in April 2005, as compared to previous month, increased on average by 3,9% (fuel oil went up by 14,9%, diesel fuel went down by 0,6%, gasoline by 1,4%). In JanuaryApril 2005, against the relevant period of 2004 the prices of oil products were on average by 46% higher (diesel fuel went up by 56%, gasoline by 35%, fuel oil by 34%).

In April 2005, as compared to March, the prices for natural gas in Europe rose by 6,2%, in the USA by 2,6%. In January-April 2005, against the relevant period of 2004 it went up in Europe by 43,7%, while in the U.S. by 16,9%.

Therefore, in April 2005 against the previous month, the world prices of products of Russian fuel and energy complex increased on average by 0,9%. In January-April 2005, compared with the relevant period of 2004, the prices were higher by 45,2%.

In April, the prices of metals on the world commodity markets continued to be high. However, the forecasted by IMF slowing in 2005, as compared to 2004, the world economy growth rates may lead to lowering of the world prices for non-ferrous metals, particularly for aluminum and nickel.

In April 2005 the copper price reached its record high over the last 16 years. This can be explained by raising the demand for it on the part of China (which consumes about the quarter of all produced copper in the world), weakening of the US dollar, and also by reduction of this metal reserves (three years ago the copper reserves on the London Metal Exchange wee estimated as 1 million tons. Presently they amount to 47 thou. tons, which equals some two-days volume of its world consumption).

In April 2005, against previous month, the prices of non-ferrous metals decreased on average by 3,7%, with aluminum to do down by 4,4% (to USD 1894 per ton), nickel by 0,3% (to USD per ton); copper went up by 0,4% (to USD 3395 per ton). In January-April 2005, against the relevant period of 2004, the prices of non-ferrous metals were on average higher by 13,0% (the aluminum prices rose by 13,6%, copper by 18,8%, nickel 9,9%).

Table 1.

Monthly Average World Prices in April of Corresponding Year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Oil (Brent), USD/ barrel 21.32 17.22 13.92 15.72 22.97 26.26 25.81 24.79 33.5 50.Natural gas, USD/1 mln BTU 1.966 2.548 2.187 3.052 5.200 3.408 5.390 5.785 7.Gasoline, USD/gallon 0.707 0.455 0.378 0.391 0.808 0.999 0.814 0.855 1.152 1.Copper, USD/t 2574.9 2369.7 1775.3 1539.9 1710.1 1689.4 1620.8 1598.5 2950.0 3395.Aluminum, USD/t 1590.2 1554.0 1413.5 1318.0 1448.0 1493.7 1370.3 1332.8 1734.0 1894.Nickel, USD/t 8053.9 7312..4 5352.5 5239.5 9657.1 6303.1 6940.6 7915.3 12872.0 16142.Source: calculated according to the data of London Metal Exchange (Great Britain, London), International Petroleum Exchange (London) The high growth rates of Russian imports are largely supported by further expansion of the internal demand in real ruble strengthening. In April 2005, against previous month, the real effective ruble rate to the currencies of the countries major trade partners of the RF, rose by 1,6%, against December 2004 - by 6,7%. In April 2005, in comparison with December 2004, the real ruble to dollar strengthening was 4,4%, to euro 9,3%.

The growth of imports occurred largely due to an increase of the volume of imports with the modest rise in the level of contract prices. Thus, in January-April 2005, an index of the volume of Russian imports amounted to 119,3% (in January-April 2004 124,2%), price index 106,2% (106,1%).

According to the data of Federal customs service, in the import pattern of January-April 2005 the share of plant and equipment increased, against January-April 2004, from 39,5% to 41%, while their value volume - by 31%.

The import of foodstuffs and agricultural raw materials increased by 21,2%, but their share in the whole volume of import decreased from 19,2% to 18,4%. In the 1st quarter of 2005, the share of imports in the commodity structure of the retail trade made 44%.

In June 21 27, 2005 the negotiations were held in Geneva, within the framework of XXVIII session of the working group on Russias accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), where the draft report of the working group was discussed on system requirements for Russias WTO accession.

At this stage, almost a third of the text of this report has been agreed. Up until now, no decisions were taken on such key issues as the level of agricultural subsidizing, railway rates and protection of intellectual property. It is symbolic that the Russian party agreed at the passed session to pay for its WTO accession by liquidation of export duties. The Negative WTOs attitude to export duties is known:

export duties are permitted to be introduced only in the event of balance of payments deficit, and its only IMF that is to confirm the foreign economic statistics of the country.

Export duties appeared in Russia early in 1990s, in 1997 they were practically liquidated. However, after the crisis of 1998 the export duties for hard currency intensive minerals again became effective.

IMF did not protest, as after the August crisis the Russias trade balance deficit was large. Now the Russias trade surplus reached over the last 15 years a record mark. In 2003, the government had already started working on liquidation of export duties for the majority of goods, by setting a task of maximally to reduce the list of goods falling under imposition by export duties. By contrast, export duties for oil and oil products are growing following the world prices. It is to be remembered that the export duty rate for oil of USD 136.2 per ton the highest for the whole history of existence of oil duties in Russia - is in effect since June 1, 2005. Since June 27, 2005, new export duty rates for light oil products of USD 104.1 per ton (earlier USD 81.4), became effective, for dark USD 56 per ton (USD 43.8).

Most likely, the government will not refuse to use the formula, specified in the law, on the customs tariff, according to which the higher are world prices of oil, the higher are duties. However, in the course of the latest negotiations within the frame of the working group for accession to WTO, among other issues the question of export duties was also raised: the Russias partners demanded to liquidate them. In part the Russian negotiators agreed with them. A number of duties will really be liquidated just after Russias accession to WTO, one part of them after a certain transition period (for example, duties for chemical goods will be lifted only in 7 years after accession), another part will be only lowered (for example, for scrap of ferrous and non-ferrous metals). The oil and gas duties will be frozen once Russia has become a member of WTO.

Russia will be able to introduce new export duties only in compliance with WTO rules in particular, if the shortage of products on the domestic market threatens the country security.

The process of Russias accession to WTO lasts for 10 years already. At this stage negotiations have been completed with 33 countries, for which fall 87% of Russian external turnover. In June this year Russia signed agreements with Norway and Mexico, with another five countries no more than two questions were left unsettled. In parallel to that, an agreement to sign contracts until September was agreed with the four states, while with India, Japan and the USA till the end of 2005.

The Russian government hopes to become a WTO member by December 2005, when the conference of the ministers of trade of WTO member countries (taking place every two years), will be held.

As a rule, it is just those conferences where new members of the World Trade Organizations are officially admitted.

N.Volovik Transferring of Educational Institutions of Primary and Secondary Vocational Level to Competence of the RF Subjects Better meeting of the system of education in institutions of primary and secondary vocational level with the current and prospective needs of regional markets is one of most priority tasks of the reforming of Russian system of vocational education. This task concerns also the issues of transferring the educational institutions of primary and secondary vocational level from the federal to regional level.

Solving this task is being intensively realized in the Russian Federation since January 2005. It is necessary that this process be accompanied with legal regulation as well as the support of efficient financial mechanisms to be used in regions where educational institutions are situated.

In compliance with article 26.3 of Federal law No. 95-FZ of 04.07.2003, since January 1, 2005 the primary and secondary vocational education is the competence of government bodies of the RF Subjects. In all, there are as many as 6439 educational institutions of such type in the country. Following the results of the first quarter of 2005, as many as 2536 educational institutions of primary and secondary vocational level, including 191 institutions of secondary vocational level, have been transferred to competence of the RF Subjects. As many as 251 institutions of primary vocational level (PVL)and 1011 ones of secondary vocational level (SVL) were left at the federal level.

To date, the institutions of the system of primary and secondary vocational level being, in fact, regional, were administered and maintained by the federal center (via the educational government agencies of the RF Subjects). So, the purpose of transferring is to make educational institutions, which provide local needs of regional labor markets, closer to their direct consumers enterprises, organizations and institutions.

According to reformers, transferring of educational institutions to competence of the RF Subjects will lead to development of regional PVL and SVL systems and to their optimization, that provides restructuring and integration of educational institutions, which is necessary in the conditions of imminent hard demographic situation, characterized by sharp reduction of the number of school leavers of 9th and 11th forms of general education schools. In addition, it is necessary to enhance the efficiency of use of property being in operational administration of the institutions of primary and secondary vocational level.

To competence of the RF Subjects was transferred funding (from the federal budget), and also buildings and facilities, being in ownership of federal bodies of power. In parallel to that, the List of federal government educational institutions was set, according to Decree No. 64-r of the RF Government of 24.01.2004, to be transferred, in 2005, to competence of Rosobrazovaniye from other federal bodies of executive power (531 SVL and 1 PVL institutions).

The federal government educational institutions (129), subordinate to sectoral ministries (departments), are also planned to be transferred to competence of the RF Subjects. At present the situation is as follows (see table 1):

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