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The staple Russias exports to Kazakhstan are fuel and energy goods, machinery and equipment, chemical products. In its turn, Russia primarily imports machinery and equipment, which make one fourth of its total imports from Kazakhstan. Chemical products, metals, and metal products account for about 15 % Russias imports from Kazakhstan.

As concerns customs regulations, there are certain differences between the legislation of two countries.

For instance, in Kazakhstan exists only one rate of VAT (16 %), while export duties are practically absent (only 10 commodities, including scrape non-ferrous and ferrous metals, hides, and wool, are subject to export duties).

As concerns the levels of customs tariffs, it shall be noted that rates are similar only for about a half of goods included in the general commodity register. At the same time, in comparison with Russia, Kazakhstan maintains higher rates of customs duties on 60 % of goods.

Both Kazakhstan and Russia are planning to approve new customs codes soon, what may render more difficult the unification of rates of customs tariffs and excise taxes.

Customs authorities of Russia actively cooperate with their counterparts in Belorussia, which is also a member of the Customs Union. In November, there was held a meeting of representatives of customs agen cies of these countries, where the parties agreed to conduct random audits of export import transactions in order to prevent smuggling of a wide range of goods using Russian and Belorussian trade marks. The measure is primarily aimed at the prevention of illegal traffic in oil products and non-ferrous metals. It was also envisaged to work out model plans of joint actions with regard to external economic activities of the fuel and energy complex, turnover of tobacco and alcohol products, as well as smuggling of metals, timber, and oil and natural gas products.

On November 20, Chine introduces prohibitive customs duties on imported cold rolled metal products, which will affect exporters from Russia, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan. Chinese officials, who conducted an antidumping investigation, initiated in accordance with the claims submitted by the local association of entrepreneurs this May, set a 20 % duty on the exports from Russia. However, this protective measure will have only a little effect on the Russian producers in the short time perspective. Russian exporters will be granted a quota for cold rolled products. Exports within the quota should not be subject to import duties, and the amount of shipments from Russia will hardly exceed the respective maximum. For instance, the quota set for the period from May of 2003 to May of 2004 makes more than 800 thous. metric tons, and will be increased in the future. In 2001, Russian exports to China made only about 600 thous. metric tons of cold rolled metal products. Therefore, Russia will be able to export even more rolled products to China than before the introduction of these sanctions. China annually imports up to 25 million metric tons of rolled products and steel, and the demand of the Chinese market of metal products grows most constantly and dynamically. Therefore, in the future Russian exports may increase and exceed the quota, what may result in a significant decline in profitability of exports to China.

In November, Russia and the USA signed an amendment to the comprehensive agreement on steel concluded in 1999. According to the amendment, Russian producers have the right to export 1.2 million metric tons of steel slabs to the USA this year (previously the volume of respective exports was limited to 1 million metric tons). The agreement on thick sheets is also favorable for Russia: the agreement takes into account the market status of the country and abolishes the existing quotas and price limits. According to the agreement, Russian producers will have to submit quarterly reports on the production costs of their products to the US authorities. Our partners will set minimal prices basing on the respective information.

N. Volovik N. Leonova

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