Balance Export Import Source: RF Goskomstat In August, the price situation on world markets continued to improve – world prices of the staple Russia’s exports increased by 2.0 % on the average in comparison with the July figures. For instance, at the end of the month oil prices at the New York commodity exchange exceeded the level of US $ 30 per barrel, thus reaching the record high in the last 15 months. URALS prices increased by 3.8 % up to US $ 25.7 per barrel, oil products also went up by 3.8 %, while European prices of natural gas grew by 2 %.
The business situation on the world market of ferrous metals was stable this August. Export prices of reinforcing steel, commercial steel, hot and cold rolled steel exported from EU member states to third countries did not change in comparison with July figures and made US $ 200 – 230, 215 – 250, 270 – 290, and 310 – 340 per metric ton respectively by the end of the month.
In the situation of low demand and large finished stocks, the trend towards a decrease in prices prevailed on the majority of key markets of non-ferrous metals.
On October 1, the seasonal duty on imported unrefined sugar were increased from Euro 0.15 per kilogram to Euro 0.2 per kilogram. This duty will be in effect till December 31, 2002.
By increasing duties, the government establishes the most favored treatment for domestic producers.
Seasonal import duties on unrefined and refined sugar are annually set by the government. For instance, in Îêò.
Èþëü Èþëü Èþëü Èþëü Èþëü Èþëü 2001, the rate of the duty on unrefined sugar was set at Euro 0.15 per kilogram and on refined sugar at Euro 0.18 per kilogram for the period from July 1 to December 31, 2001.
Table The average monthly world prices in August of the respective year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 Oil (Brent), USD / metric ton 21,04 18,25 12,5 20,2 29,4 25,7 27,Natural gas, USD / thous. m3 2,856 2,121 1,858 2,8 4,437 2,91 2,Gasoline, USD / metric ton 0,6299 0,5941 0,4128 0,6476 0,9021 0,776 0,Copper, USD / metric ton 2001,4 2481,7 1627,4 1646,6 1941,7 1499,4 1480,Aluminum, USD / metric ton 1480,1 1563,7 1345,4 1421,1 1546,4 1374,9 1292,Nickel, USD / metric ton 7100,4 6737,3 4137,1 6430,8 8092,9 5554 6720,Source: calculated in accordance to the data presented by London Metal Exchange (UK), International Oil Exchange (London) On October 1, the government resolution “On the amendment of rules governing the transfer of goods across the customs border by individuals” was enacted. It is a regular attempt to minimize “gray” imports on the part of the government. According to the estimates of the RF Ministry for economic development, in 2000 “shadow” import of footwear and other products of light industry made US $ 10.8 billion and US $ 12.4 billion in 2001.
After the enactment of this regulation, individuals may import free of duty goods worth up to US $ and weighing up to 50 kilograms, but only in case the owner is personally present at the customs office. All goods exceeding these standards shall be subject to the common duty and VAT collection. On a temporary basis, until January 1, 2003, the goods weighing 50 to 100 kilograms and worth US $ 100 to 5000 will be exempted from VAT.
The recently abolished rules were established for individuals; however, on practice they were used by legal entities, so called cargo firms, which based their businesses on duty free imports fraudulently pretending to be individuals. The scheme used by cargo firms was rather simple. The carriers divided shipments in small lots, obtained a power of attorney from an individual for each lot and imported goods free of duty. Previously, the shipments weighing from 50 to 200 kilograms and worth up to US $ 10000 were subject to a 30 % duty and were exempted from VAT. Smaller shipments were absolutely free of duty. Now, it is impossible to avoid paying the duty, however small the shipment is.
Since October 4, the radically increased duties on import of cars manufactured seven and more years ago are in effect. According to the government resolution No. 643 of August 30, 2002, the following duties are introduced with regard to such cars imported by individuals: 2 Euro per 1 cubic cm of motor capacity for cars with motors below 2.5 thousand cubic cm and 3 Euro per 1 cubic cm of motor capacity for cars with motors above 2.5 thousand cubic cm (as compared to previously effective duties of 1.4 Euro).
The duties on cars manufactured 3 to 7 years ago remained without change (0.85 Euro per 1 cubic cm of motor capacity for cars with motors below 2.5 thousand cubic cm and 1.4 Euro per 1 cubic cm of motor capacity for cars with motors above 2.5 thousand cubic cm).
The new customs duties result in similar prices of cars manufactured 3 to 7 years ago and older cars. This development shall shift preferences in favor of newer cars.
Resolution No. 642 of August 30, 2002, introduces higher rates of duties on cars manufactured 7 and more years ago imported by legal entities (it shall be noted that legal entities import significantly fewer old cars than individuals).
For instance, in 2001, legal entities imported 29 000 cars used for 3 or more years by the moment of customs clearance) as compared with 23.5 thousand cars imported in 2000. Individuals imported 352.thousand of used cars in 2001, as compared with 131.9 thousand cars imported in 2000.
According to the August data (2002), the amounts of both imports and exports related to CIS countries exceeded the figures registered in the respective period of the preceding year by 6 %. Russia maintains the active balance of trade vis--vis these countries, its exports to CIS countries made US $ 1.39 billion (US $ 0.33 above the amount of imports).
In October, the government abolished the resolution “On the procedure governing the introduction of a special duty on ferrous pipes imported from Ukraine” in effect since May of 2001. At the same time, the previously approved Agreement (of April 10, 2001) regulating import of ferrous pipes from Ukraine was prolonged. This decision may negatively affect the interests of domestic producers of pipes in Russia, since now Ukraine has no reasons to conclude of prolong any agreements on self-restriction of respective imports.
Earlier, the special duties were the main means forcing Ukraine to maintain the system of quotation of its imports.
A most important aim of EvrAzES is also to solve the problem of import customs duties. In the course of the October meeting of EvrAzES representatives, it was noted that at present the levels of customs duties on almost 60 per cent of the total nomenclature of goods traded among Russia, Byelorussia, and Kazakhstan have been harmonized, while an efficient common system of customs tariffs may be created when 80 % of customs duties would be adjusted.
N. Volovik N. Leonova Unification of corporate governance rules in Russia and EU:
formal and real criteriaThe use of unified EU rules in the course of improvement of the Russian model of corporate governance became an actual issue in 2001, when the idea of feasibility of formation of the “common European economic space” was approved at the Russia – EU summit.
Certainly, a considerable number of English and American mechanisms for protection of shareholders’ rights was adopted by the Russian legislation on companies (or, more exactly, corporate law). Nevertheless, the common traditions of the continental European law dominate, what determines the closeness of the Russian company law to the standards set for EU acts in terms of formal criteria reflected in the directives and regulations of the Council of European Union (Table 1). It is also true for standards worked out by different European associations representing the private sector9.
Probably, no serious problems would be encountered in the case there arises the need to formally harmonize the Russian company law with EU rules (if the use of certain formal pretexts by political opposition in Russia and EU is not taken into account). It would be possible not only because of the state of the Russian legislation, but also because of a number of factors related to EU. For instance, the eighties and the nineties were characterized by a slowdown of the harmonization of EU legislation on companies. This development was most clearly reflected in the course of discussion of draft 5th (concerning the structure of public limited companies and the powers and obligations of their organs) and 13th (concerning takeover bids) directives, and in the fact that the elaboration of the Statute for a European Company took too much time, i.e.
it was related to the areas where national approaches were most different. The resulting compromise (i.e.
compiling all major national approaches) decisions and documents (drafts) are so multi-variant that they would allow Russia to “fit” in this European format without much effort. For instance, the adaptation to the standards relating to the model of “European company” adopted in 2001 after a 30 year discussion would not present a problem for the corporate law of Russia. At the same time, the first and second, relatively “tight” Council directives concerning the areas where legal regulations at the national levels were already rather similar, do not present serious problems for Russia, since the Russian legislation has many similar standards.
At last, many issues are still regulated exceptionally by national legislation (for instance, liquidation), have different levels of legal regulation (for instance, groups of companies), or are strikingly different across countries (for instant, self-regulation).
Real economic constraints and internal contradictions of the model of corporate governance forming presently in Russia present a more serious problem in the context of potential harmonization.
On the whole, taking into account a number of empirical and legal data, it may be stated that there is a stable and fundamental contradiction in the forming system of corporate governance. Its essence is the fact that two principally different approaches exist in the present system. On the one hand, concentration of joint stock capital, which requires a minimum of legal means of protection of shareholders. On the other hand, the Anglo Saxon legal tradition, which is characterized by maximization of means of legal protection of minority shareholders.
The article is based on the materials of IET and RECEP researches conducted in 2001 through 2002.
See: Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations. European Association of Securities Dealers (EASD), May 2000; Corporate Governance Guidelines 2000. The European Shareholders Group. Brussels, February 2000. For a detailed comparative review of pan-European codes of corporate governance and codes of EU member countries see:
Comparative Study Of Corporate Governance Codes Relevant to the European Union And Its Member States. Final Report and Annexes I-III. On behalf of the European Commission (In consultations with EASD and ECGN). Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP, January 2002.
Availability and level of elaboration of key legislative regulations concerning companies in the Russian law and EU acts (basing on the level of elaboration in EU acts) Regulation Russia * EU** Strict and thorough procedures governing the Present (CC, JSC) Present (D 1, D 2 Ä 1, Ä 2), as formation of joint stock companies well as R on EEIG 1985 and R on SE Strict and thorough elaborated procedure for Present (JSC, SM) Present (D 2) the maintenance of the size of joint stock capital Regulation of establishment of branch Present (CC, JSC) Minimally (D 11 as concerns offices, representation agencies, and other accounting) separate units Key issues of reorganization Present (CC, JSC), however, present (D 3, D 6, draft D 10 on further elaboration is necessary as cross border mergers) concerns: forms of reorganization Methods of protection of shareholders’ and creditors’ rights Control of “economic concentration” Present (AMR), although “R on mergers”, ineffective Single member companies Present (JSC) Present (D 12) for close / private companies Shareholders’ preemptive right as concerns Present (JSC, as amended in Present (D 2) shares 2001) Choice between one and two tier systems Present (JSC) Present as a compromise of national models (draft D 5, R and D of October 8, 2001, on SE) Participation of employees in management No Present as a compromise of national models (draft D 5, R and D of October 8, 2001, on SE) Strict requirements with regard to accounting Present (SM, JSC, etc.), Present (D 1, D 4, D 7 aimed at and audit however, it is necessary to introduce harmonizing financial information levels of tightness depending on the published by limited companies company size; create real conditions, D 8 on audit, D 11) for transition to international standards Takeovers and protection of minority Present (JSC), however, it shall Common principles are at the shareholders’ rights be elaborated in more detail stage of discussion (draft D 13) because of conflicting national approaches Group of companies (enterprises) Minimally and inconsistently on Minimally (D 7 on consolidated subsidiary and dependent companies accounts, social aspects, draft D (CC, JSC), “groups of persons” and on “group behavior”) affiliated persons (AMR) Bankruptcy Present, however, a radical Minimally (C, 1985) mainly modification of legislation is regulation of inter-country conflicts necessary Insider transactions Minimally, although a special Direct prohibition and minimal law is necessary standards (D) Liquidation Present (CC, JSC) No * JSC is for the law “On joint stock companies”, CC is the Civil Code, SM is for the law “On securities market”, AMR is for the law “On competition and restriction of monopolistic activities on commodity markets”; ** D is for directive, R is for regulation, C is for convention, SE is for “Societas Europeae” (European company), EEIG is for European Economic Interest Grouping.
The combination of these approaches resulted in a unique situation of their mutual neutralization.