Prices growth rates have gone up in all sectors of consumer market. The package of anti-inflation operational measures was of short-term nature. Foodstuffs went up in price by11.4% against 6.1% over the first half of 2007. In the first half of the current year bread and bakery goods became more expensive by 20.7%, sunflower oil – by 25.8%, milk and dairy goods – by 6.1%, fruit and vegetable – by 36.0%. The situation at the foodstuff market is aggravated by high growth of producers’ prices for sold agriculture goods: over the first half of 2008 increase in prices was 4.3% against the decrease by 0.6% over the corresponding period of the previous year. It was the accelerating dynamics of prices for foodstuffs growth that defined increase in prices at non-food market. Growth rates of prices for non-food goods rose by 4.4 percentage points against 2.percentage points and of tariffs for services rendered to the population in a market sector – by 10.1% against 6.7%.
Over the first half of 2008 increase in prices in industry was equal to 17% against 14.6% in the previous year. As compared with the previous year, the acceleration of prices growth for processing industries production and for electricity, gas and water production and distribution is observed. Prices for goods, whose prices growth depends on the situation at the world market (mineral fertilizers, ferrous metals, fuel and lubricants), also went up rapidly in the first half-year. It should be noted that despite the change in the situation, machine-building production continue to pursuit the policy of reserved prices growth, but the anticipating growth of prices for mineral resources used as sources of power and metals defines the change in inflation field for these productions. In the first half of 2008 prices in machinery and equipment production went up by 11.7%, in transport vehicles and equipment production – by 10.4%, in electric, electronic and optic equipment production – by 6.3%, prices for metallurgy production and finished metal goods increasing by 26.3%, coke and oil products production – by 18.9%, electricity production, transfer and distribution – by 17.3%.
Low competitive ability of domestic production of machine-building industry and investment goods export dynamic growth may influence the level of demand and lead to the further deceleration of machinebuilding growth rates.
According to the IET forecast, expected industrial growth rates in 2008 will be equal to 106.2%, and for processing industries – to 108.2%. Machinery and construction materials production growth rates remaining anticipating as to the dynamics of processing industries and existing investment goods import dynamics, increase in investments in fixed assets will be 20.2% on 2007.
Russian Industry in July S. Tsukhlo Demand and output dynamics, estimation of finished goods stocks and facilities excess, production and sales forecasts testify intensification of negative trends in the Russian industry.
According to official data of the Federal State Statistics Service, sudden slowdown of industrial growth occurred in July – output volume has increased only by 0.9% on last year’s June (as compared with 6.7% growth in May). The cause of such a sharp drop is rather statistical than economical. In the opinion of experts of Center for Macroeconomic Analysis and Short-term Forecasting (CMASF), the Federal State Statistics Service corrected 2007 data (the estimation was increased) because of more thorough account of small enterprises production, which traditionally occurs in the middle of the year. Data for 2008 have not been corrected yet, that is why starting with June inconsistency of effective and corrected data has arisen. V. Salnikov of CMASF holds, “Industrial statistics by Federal State Service Agency is unsuited for use, scales of recalculations being as they are”. According to alternative method by CMASF, production index was 5.5% on June 2007, and 6.3% over the half-year. In June output increased by 0.4% on May 2008 (taking seasonality into account), figure being the same on average this year. The monitoring of a more representative set of indices does not demonstrate, however, that everything goes well in the Russian economy.
Growth of demand for industrial goods has remained very low in recent months. According to all kinds of indices (initial, seasonality excluded, occasional fluctuations excluded) sales growth rates lowered down to 2-5 balance points, which is the worst values since the end of 2005. Demand growth slowdown was observed in metallurgy, machine-building, timber industry, construction and foodstuffs production. As a result, in July satisfaction with volumes of sales in industry decreased down to 58%, while in June there were 63% of the enterprises were satisfied with the demand. Such a low value has not been observed for two years.
Demand for domestically produced goods is becoming ever-bigger obstacle for output growth. In July frequency of its quotation as an obstacle went up to 40%. This is the maximum for the preceding nine quarters and the second place this quarter. In 2nd quarter 2008 insufficient demand prevented 30% of enterprises (third place) from output increasing, and a year ago – 26% (fourth place). The leading obstacle for output growth in the Russian industry has been staff shortage for fourth quarter in a row. Its frequency of citation has increased by 13 p.p. over the year, by 6 p.p. – over the second quarter and not it is the obstacle for 49% of enterprises (61% in machine-building, 58% in light industry, 12% in foodstuffs production). Third place is held by competitive import, which is now regarded as an obstacle by 32% of enterprises, whole a year ago its “damage” was recognized by 21%. Thus, limiting import pressure on Russian industry, which has been discussing for many years, is still to come to life.
Being pressed by import, enterprises have to restrict production growth. All indices calculated on the basis of surveys in July demonstrated growth slow-down by up to 12 balance points. These are the worst results for the last two and a half years, that is the production has not grown so slowly since the beginning 2006.
Finished goods stocks also testify the fact that there are problems with sales. Estimation balance (abovebelow the norm) has increased up to 14 points and is the maximum for the last 28 months. Index growth was the result of the decrease in “below the norm” responses proportion from 15 to 9% – this is because of either increase in supplies of finished goods to stocks, or reconsideration of demand growth prospects to the worse and re-estimation of unchanged volumes of stocks. Both the reasons for the change in stocks estimation are not optimistic when analyzing the situation in the Russian industry.
Demand growth slow-down did away with facilities shortage in the Russian industry. Shortage of facilities was for the first time registered by surveys in 2nd quarter 2007 and reached –10 balance points by the beginning of 2008. Over the last three months, however, the share of estimations “insufficient” decreased from 21 to 12%, share of “excessive” responses increasing from 11 to 17%, the balance thus becoming positive again. The demand has thus ceased (perhaps temporarily) to justify investment efforts of the Russian enterprises of recent years. This thesis is also testified by the statistics of obstacles for output growth.
Whereas a year ago facilities shortage prevented 32% of the enterprises (third place in the list of ten monitored factors) from output increasing, this year it is cited by only 21% of factories (fifth place).
Staff shortage in the environment of demand and output growth slowdown remains a mass phenomenon in the Russian industry. One quarter of the Russian enterprises in 3rd quarter 2008 claimed they do not have enough qualified staff – this is only by 2 p.p. below the absolute maximum for this value registered a year ago. The main cause of staff deficiency the enterprises consider to be low wages, which they offer when hiring. Only 49% of enterprises regard the wages they pay to their workers and engineers as normal.
After a period of being comparatively stable, forecasts for changes in demand began losing optimism in 2nd quarter. As a result the Russian industry expects the most moderate sales growth over the last one and a half years. Demand growth is predicted only for timber industry, chemistry and petrochemistry. The situation is similar for enterprises’ production plans. In forthcoming months output will grow more slowly, especially in ferrous metallurgy, machine-building and light industry.
Price forecasts of enterprises give no hope for deceleration of speedy inflation. In the immediate future Russian producers are going to increase their prices to the extent that has not been equaled in the last 6 years.
Foreign Trade N. Volovik In May 2008 high growth rates of the main indices of the Russian foreign trade sustained. World prices for oil continued to define the dynamics of Russian export. Import growth is still stimulated by the increase in the investment activity and expansion of the population’s internal demand.
Despite the responsibilities on equal entrance of Russian and Belarussian goods to the corresponding markets, there are still many unsolved problems concerning this issue between Russia and Belarussia. Starting with 1 July 2008 export duty rates for wheat and barley were abolished.
In May 2008 Russian foreign trade turnover calculated on the basis of balance-of-payments methodology was equal to USD 67.2 bln, which is by 42.5% more than in May 2007 and export value volume reached the level, which is maximum for 17 years, being equal to USD 42.8 bln, having increased by 44.3% as compared with May 2007.
Russian import growth rates also remained at a high level. In May 2008 import value index increased by 39.4% as compared with May 2007 and was equal to USD 24.3 bln.
In May Russian foreign trade balance was positive and equal to USD 18.5 bln, having risen by USD 12.bln – by 49.3%- on May of last year.
On the whole the world situation is estimated as favorable for Russia despite slow-down of the world economy growth. Average price for oil grade Brent went up as compared with April 2008 by 10.28% and as compared with May 2007 – by 81.34%. World price for oil grade Urals was at the level of USD 116.0 per barrel in May, increasing considerably (by 12.6%) as compared with April. In January-May on average oil grade Urals cost USD 99.2 per barrel at the world market, which is by 70.6% over the average level of the corresponding period of 2007.
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Balance Export Import Source: the RF Central Bank Fig. 1 Main Indices of Russian Foreign Trade (as USD bln) The dynamics of world prices for the main metals exported by Russia is the following in the current year.
The price for aluminum went up a bit; price for copper after some decrease in December-January rose a bit in the following months and stabilized. In May 2008 prices for non-ferrous metals was dropping. Copper became by 3.5% cheaper than in the preceding month, aluminum – by 1.9%, nickel – by 10%.
After a considerable leap in 2007 and a drop in the first half of 2008 world price for nickel did not suffer any considerable fluctuations. In January-May 2008 world prices for nickel dropped by 38.9% as compared with the average prices of the corresponding period of 2007. Comparing January-May of the current and the previous years, it is obvious that copper became more expensive by 19.6%, aluminum – by 2.2% and for steel goods a record-breaking index prices growth was 76.5%.
Table Average World Prices in May of the Corresponding Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Oil (Brent), 19.00 14.51 15.91 27.50 28.71 25.21 25.34 37.9 47.8 68.68 67.64 119.USD/bbl Natural gas, USD/1 mln 2.271 2.187 2.349 3.724 4.220 3.254 5.984 6.465 6.497 7.97 7.94 11.BTU Petrol, 0.634 0.513 0.529 0.957 1.095 0.767 0.835 1.342 1.44 2.072 2.293 3.USD/gallon Copper, 2480.4 1736.2 1539.9 1834.7 1708.2 1596.2 1667.5 2720.0 3254.0 8022.0 7682.2 USD/ton Aluminum, 1618.9 1370.6 1317.9 1464.7 1536.7 1344.3 1397.6 1615.7 1746.0 2852.0 2797.4 2902.USD/ ton Nickel, USD/ 7468.1 5058.3 5239.5 10141.4 7115.7 6764.0 8351.9 11068 16930.0 21038 52179.1 ton Source: calculated on the basis of the London Metal Exchange (Great Britain, London), International oil exchange (London).
Se Se Se Se Se Se Se Se Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan In January-May 2008 Russia’s foreign trade turnover was equal to, according to the data of the Bank of Russia, USD 303.4 bln (147.2% on the level of January-May 2007), including export – USD 193.8 bln (150.1%), import – USD 109.7 bln (142.3%). Trade balance remained positive, being equal to USD 84.1 bln, which is by 61.8% higher than the corresponding figure of 2007.
Accelerated export growth was accounted for by increase in prices for the main goods of the Russian export. It should be noted that the growth of average export prices when trading with non-CIS countries surpassed the prices growth when trading with CIS countries (143.8% and 138.6%, correspondingly). However physical volumes of export to non-CIS countries, in contrast to export to CIS-countries, grew but slightly (101.1% against 111.4%).
In general export growth was mainly defined by the growth of contract prices for oil, oil export physical volumes decreasing a bit, as well as considerable increase in oil products and natural gas export both because of prices growth and because of supplies increase.
According to live data of the Russia’s Ministry of Power, total oil export in January-May 2008 is estimated to be 103.3 mln of tons (94.7% of the level of the corresponding period of 2007). Decrease in oil export is connected with the drop in oil production and increase in oil supply for processing inside the country because of higher efficiency of oil products sales as compared with oil export.
In January-May 2008 87.8 mln tons of oil was exported to non-CIS countries (93.4% to the level of January-May 2007). There were 15.5 mln tons or 102.6% on the level of January-May 2007 exported to CIS countries. Increase of oil supplies to CIS countries is connected with the growth of export to the Republic of Belarussia decreasing supplies to the Republic of Ukraine and the Republic of Kazakhstan.
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