The main barriers on the way of accession remain the discrepancy between domestic and external prices of electric energy and natural gas, inconsistencies of the Russian legislation and WTO rules, restraints on the participation of foreign capital in the financial and telecommunication sectors, and tariffs on import of certain goods. No progress could be achieved during the talks on these problems.
There are also other unsettled disagreements with other WTO member countries. For instance, the USA, among other issues, is disturbed by the high level of protection of the Russian aviation industry, Canada - by restraints on foreign participation in the mining industry of the RF, Japan – by high customs duties on imported cars, the “Kern group” – by expanding practices of quotation of imports, auctions for quotas, etc.
At the same time, the Russian delegation could achieve an important tactical concession on the part of its partners, who agreed to intensify the process of negotiations. In January through April there shall be held three official meetings of the working group on Russia’s accession to WTO, each meeting shall take about a week. It may be noted that in 2002 there were held only 4 such meetings taking 2 to 3 days each.
In October, Russia’s exports to CIS member countries increased by 26.6 % in comparison with the figures registered in October of 2001 and made US $ 1.66 billion, while imports grew by 23.6 % and made US $ 1.billion. Therefore, Russia maintains the active balance of trade at about US $ 0.56 billion.
In December, there was held a regular meeting of the Council of Heads of customs services of the Eurasian Economic Community. The meeting was attended by the representatives of customs of Belorusia, Kazakhstan, Kirghyzia, Russia, and Tadzhikistan, which discussed the problems of further unification of customs rules in these states.
There was also discussed a complex of issues related to the transfer of intellectual property goods, what is a mandatory prerequisite for the accession to the World Trade Organization. It was decided to organize the exchange of the registers of objects of intellectual property among the customs services of the member states.
Customs services constantly comply such registers in order to prevent illegal traffic in intellectual property.
In December, there was also held the meeting of the Customs Committee of the Russia – Belorussia Union State. The participants discussed the problem of formation of conditions necessary to create the common customs space.
The participants of the meeting focused on the problem of transit. In the case this problem is solved, it would facilitate the further liberalization of customs procedures.
There were worked out recommendations aimed to protect the interests of Russia and Belorussia on the external border of the Union State, as concerns both imported and transited goods. Besides, there were discussed additional measures aimed to consolidate control over the import and transit of goods transferred in accordance with the convention on international road transportation. This year, 53 of 160 forwarding companies, which submitted respective applications, were rejected due to infringements on the convention.
In October of 2002, the Belorussian customs implemented the system of operative reaction as concerns forwarding agencies failing to deliver goods to the destination customs authority, including Russian customs.
The meeting was concluded by a report about the development of the customs infrastructure of the check points at the Belorussian border.
N. Volovik N. Leonova Foreign financing of Russia's science: new priorities.
In the last six months the topic of foreign support of Russia’s science became more popular than ever. It is not excluded, that a factor behind this development is a peculiar anniversary – the reform in Russia and in Russian science (where foreign support was of considerable importance, and not only in material terms) has been in progress for a decade. This anniversary requires to summarize the experience and objectively answer the following questions about the results of this support, its importance for Russia and donor countries, the scale of further financing, the most suitable mechanisms of support, necessary changes (if any) as concerns the priorities (areas of support and eligible categories of grant recipients). At present, foreign organizations and foundations are ready to cooperate closer and share their experience in the assessment of the effectiveness of implementation of programs. At the same time, the grounds for cooperation have also changed as a number of foundations implement joint programs.
Official statistics reveal that the share of financing of science from foreign sources is diminishing – at present it makes slightly over 10 %. At the same time, a decrease in the specific weight does not mean that financing is declining in absolute terms. Russian science demonstrates a positive trend towards a constant growth in orders on the part of industry. This development accounts for the decrease in the specific weight of foreign sources. At the same time, in certain areas of research, especially prospective and rapidly developing spheres (for instance, medical and biological studies, chemical physics), the share of foreign sources (in the form of grants and contracts) makes up to 80 %. Yet another indicator is that according to expert estimates, at present about one third of all fundamental studies in Russia is carried out in the form of joint research projects with foreign partners. Foreign support is directed to clearly defined recipients, as a rule, is assigned via tenders, projects are assessed with participation of foreign experts, what, in view of the Russia’s academic community, ensures that Western donors take more fair decisions. Therefore, foreign financing retains its importance, which in reality is greater than in “statistical” terms.
May it be expected that foreign financing of Russian science will diminish The answer to this question in part depends on the achievement of goals, for which the funds were assigned. Foundations and programs aimed at the support of Russian science have many different missions, and often one donor organization pursues several goals at the same time. Summarizing, the following dominating goals of the support of Russia’s science may be singled out: to keep the best researchers involved in fundamental and applied studies, to prevent “brain drain,” to re-orient former defense research establishments towards the implementation of civilian projects, assistance in the adaptation of the sphere of science to the market economy via participation in its institutional and structural reform and support of science in regions, assistance and cooperation in commercialization of the results of research. Apparently, most of these goals remain urgent. For instance, the “brain drain” continues, although on a lesser scale. At the same time, more young researchers give up science and it may be said that young researchers “flow through” the sphere of science (especially hard science) in no time. The problem of conversion of defense establishments is also far from settlement, although Western organizations made large investments in the process of conversion: for instance, only the budget of the International Scientific and Technical Center (ISTC), which finances civilian projects of former defense scientists six times exceeds annual budgets of two leading domestic scientific foundations – the Russian Fund of Fundamental Studies (RFFS) and the Russian Humanitarian Scientific Fund (RHSF). Receiving grants for the implementation of civilian projects, defense scientists re-orient their studies, however, only for a time, and return to military projects as soon as there are state orders for respective researches. There were no massive evaluation of “conversion” of defense scientists, while sample surveys demonstrate that complete re-orientation is possible only in case organizations do not receive defense-related orders. It shall be hardly expected that the full reorientation towards civilian projects pursued by Western donors will be achieved in the nearest future” in the last year the amount of defense order in science increased, as per expert estimates, 2 or 3 times.
The structural and institutional reforms in the sphere of science are far from completion, while many problems remain unsettled in terms of commercialization of the results of studies and researches. Therefore, there are no grounds to expect a decline in foreign financing in relation to the achievement of specified goals.
At the same time, the prospects of growth or decline in the market of foreign support of science depend not only on goals and priorities of sponsor organizations, but also on the conditions of their work in Russia. An urgent problem often confusing foreign donors is frequent changes in the Russian tax legislation. While, for instance, the rules governing the single social tax and VAT were in the end adjusted in favor of organizations providing technical assistance, this problem still rises questions about the feasibility to maintain the scope of support of Russian science on the part of foreign organizations. At the same time, taking into account the variety of factors, it may be expected that foreign sponsors will maintain the present level of financing of Russia’s science.
Even in the case certain goals set forth by the terms of support were not achieved, it does not mean that financing was inefficient. To the contrary, there is a number of positive effects. Among such effects are the introduction of new mechanisms of financing, like tenders, basing on independent expertise and targeted support of research teams, lessons of grant management, introduction of the term “conflict of interests” to the Russia’s scientific community, promotion of the idea of support of science in higher education establishments, where research is effective two times, since it involves young scientists and simultaneously achieves both scientific and educational goals. At last, programs and foundations contributed to the popularization of foreign experience of distribution and protection of intellectual property rights.
Summarizing various discussions and meetings organized over the last few months by Western donors, it may be concluded that the donors are also in the dark concerning the effects of the Western assistance to Russian science, and if these effects are favorable for the donors themselves. Most donors adhere to the idea that “the situation is not what it seems to be at the first glance” fearing that the goals and priorities were not always set correctly. Such sentiment is not accidental: assessment of a number of initiatives implemented in Russia revealed that these initiatives did not bring expected results. A factor behind this development is that programs were worked out by Western donors without consultations with Russian experts proceeding from their understanding what Russia needs and what facilitates its transition to the market economy. Ideas realized in such programs not always answered the interests and views of Russian organizations responsible for scientific and technical development, as well as requirements of regional authorities and the scientific community, what resulted in failures in implementation of projects. At present, the approaches to such issues (assist to whom, how, and on which terms) are reviewed. The following ideas in this sphere begin to dominate.
First, the majority of organizations tend to a stricter selection of priorities of assistance, and a closer cooperation with the Russian partners before they start to implement their initiatives. This is especially characteristic of US foundations, the budgets of which are in part financed at the expense of the federal sources, and international European organizations. The general trend demonstrated by European donors is to assign less but larger grants concentrating them in selected areas, in particular those conforming to the priorities of the 6th framework EU program.
Second, it is necessary to strive for joint (better – parity) financing on the part of the Russian investors, which may include not only federal agencies (they have been the most active participants of joint initiatives), but also regional authorities, as well as Russian and Western industrialists. Exactly this logic is implemented by G. Soros in the course of reorganization of the Open Society Institute (OSI). OSI shall be replaced by a number of organizations with the status of Russian legal entities. Among such organizations is “Internet Sotsium” representing the association of 33 Universities, where were established Internet centers. A largest successor of OSI shall become the Fund “New Russia” with the budget financed from two to three sources (the Eurasia Fund, Soros, and, most probable, a large Russian corporation). Fund New Russia will implement educational programs, programs of support of small and medium-sized innovative businesses, initiatives related to the development of civil society, and a number of others. In the case the situation develops in the favorable direction, organizations succeeding OSI will be more and more supported by the Russian capital.
At the same time, representatives of INTAS – a well known and popular among Russian researchers EU initiative – announced that they are ready to invite Western companies to finance their projects (November meeting in Brussels). On the one hand, it will allow to increase the budgets of programs, on the other hand, participating firms will have a relatively inexpensive way to pay for the researches they are interested in and a favorable PR action.
Third, it is recognized that it is important to better coordinate programs among Western organizations themselves in order to work out common approaches, elimination of redundancies, and more effective utilization of financial resources. It was also recognized that at present different donors disagree about such basic terms as cooperation, institutional reforms, civil society. Besides, the coordinated activities may facilitate that reforms in one sector of the economy (scientific and technological) will positively affect other sectors of the economy (for instance, education or industry). At the same time, the elaboration of programs shall become more operative, since the object of assistance (spheres of science) changes very rapidly. The operative character of programs shall be combined with more thorough strategic planning.
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