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The assessments of demand also improved in December. The degree of satisfaction with the level of demand grew by 5 p.p. and reached 54 % (the best result of the year had been obtained in September (58 %)). However, in general the past year turned out to be less successful than 2004 (51 % against %). The largest enterprises, as well as the enterprises with the status of joint-stock companies, remained the best adapted to the Russian market with its specific features. Among the joint-stock companies, the degree of satisfaction with the level of demand amounted, on the average, to 52 % throughout the year, while among the state-owned enterprises this index amounted to 44 %. A similar situation was also typical In the category of medium-size enterprises the degree of satisfaction was only 44 %, while among small businesses the percentage of those satisfied with the level of demand was 35 %.

In 2005, the existing production capacities of Russian enterprises, according to their own judgment, were already sufficient for them to meet the volumes of demand estimated as normal. However, their excess capacities were minimum. After 2004, when the average annual balance of evaluations for normal demand turned out to be negative for the first time, the value of this index once again became positive, but its absolute value turned out to be minimum. Thus, for two successive years, Russian industry was balancing on the very margin of sufficiency, in terms of its production capacities being capable of meeting the existing demand for industrial output.

However, the rate of growth in output somewhat declined in December, as it had been planned by the enterprises a month earlier. Apparently, the December upsurge in demand was unexpected for the producers, bearing in mind their experiences of recent years. After being cleared of seasonality, the decline in the balance (in the rate of growth) amounted to 3 p. p., while the additional exclusion of incidental fluctuations demonstrated that the rate of growth in output remained at the level of the previous month. Production grew everywhere, except the fuel branch, and the timber, woodwork and timber, and construction industries.

The approaching lengthy holidays had a considerable influence on the estimates of finished-product stocks. Under conditions of growth in demand and output deceleration, the share of enterprises with excessive stocks also increased. As a rule, such a state of affairs is possible on the eve of a season of weak sales, in our case on the eve of the lengthy New-Year holidays.

At the end of the year, credits once again became more available in industry. At the present time, the level of normal availability of credits amounts to 73 percent, against 68 percent in the third quarter.

Only 13 percent of enterprises consider the availability of credits to be insufficient, which is a record low for this index. The majority of such enterprises is registered in light industry (30 percent) and in the woodwork & timber complex (21 percent).

The forecasts as to changes in demand, once again, remained practically unchanged. For a third month in a row, the initial data (without a clearing of seasonality) have been demonstrating negative balances in industry, the majority of enterprises are forecasting a decline in demand. The negative expectations are especially predominant in light industry and in the food and woodwork and timber branches. The clearing of seasonality makes the balance of expectations positive, but its magnitude remains highly modest. These are the lowest expectations registered by surveys during the past months.

The production plans of enterprises became more optimistic in December. The balance increased by 7 p. p., but its values remain very small so moderate output plans have never been recorded in industry since March 2002 (except in August and November 2005).

S. V. Tsukhlo Foreign trade In October 2005 the key indicators of the Russian foreign trade continued their growth. As before, the basic factors that made a positive impact on the growth of the RF foreign trade turnover are the favorable for the Russian exporters the state of affairs on the world market, ruble strengthening and growth of the effective domestic demand.

On the Six ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO), that was held in December 2005, Russia could not sign the protocols on completion of the negotiations with all the countries. Most complicated are going negotiations with the USA and Australia.

In October 2004 the foreign trade turnover of Russia, computed according to the balance of trade methodology made up USD 33.4 bn, that exceeded the respective indicator of the prior year by 32,5%.

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Balance Export Import Figure 1.Major Indices of the Russian Foreign Trade (bn dollars) Source: Central Bank of the RF The Value volume of export in October 2005 exceeded the respective indicator of 2004 by 28,5% and reached USD 22.16 bn. As before, the main factor of such growth is the value one. According to an 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, declined in October 2005, as compared to the previous month, by 0,8%. But, on the whole, over the 10 months of 2005, as compared to the respective period of 2004, they were higher by 35%.

.In October 2005, the major causes of decline of the world oil prices became arrival to the world market of oil from the strategic reserves of the International Energy Agency (IEA), the growth of the reserves of crude oil and gasoline in the U.S. storages and an increase of oil production by the OPEC countries.

In October 2005, against the September, the average oil price of Brent went down by 5,7% up to USD 58.2 a barrel, while Urals by 4,7% up to USD 55.1 a barrel. In January-October 2005, as compared to the respective period of 2004, the oil prices wee on average higher by 42.2 and 45.8% respectfully.

The prices for oil products in October 2005, against the previous month, on average went down by 3,4% (gasoline went down by 4,3%, diesel fuel by 2,6%, the fuel oil by 4,2%). In JanuaryOctober 2005, as compared to the respective period of 2004, the prices for oil products were on average higher by 45,4%.

In October 2005, against the previous month, the prices for natural gas went up in Europe by 10,6%, in the U.S. by 5,0%. In January-October 2005, as compared to the respective period of 2004, the natural gas went up in Europe by 47,4%, in the U.S. by 44,2%.

The world prices for products of the Russian fuel and energy complex in October 2005, against the previous month, on average went down by 0,9%. In January-October 2005, as compared to the respective period of 2004, they were higher by 44%.

In October 2005, the prices for ferrous metals, as compared to the previous month, did not change, while in January-October 2005, against the respective period of 2004, they were higher by 14,7%.

In October 2005, the prices for aluminum and copper in October went up. The main factors of their growth and were a shortage of those metals on the market and their high demand in China and the U.S.

Major reasons for decline in prices for nickel in October 2005 became,an excess of metal on the marJul Jul Jul Jul Jul Jul Okt Okt Okt Okt Okt Okt Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Apr Apr Apr Apr Apr Apr ket, the information on reduction of production of stainless steel in China and the plans of the largest Canadian producers of nickel on merger between the companies.

In October 2005, against the previous month, the price of aluminum went up by 4,8%, copper by 5,2%, the price of nickel went down by 12,8%. The prices for non-ferrous metals went down on average by 1,9%. In January-October 2005, against the respective period of 2004, In January-October 2005, as compared to the respective period of 2004, the prices for non-ferrous metals were higher by 11% (aluminum was higher by 9%, copper by 26%, nickel by 10%).

Table 1.

Monthly Average World Prices in October of Corresponding Year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Oil (Brent), USD/ barrel 24.08 17.9 12.8 24.1 32.14 21.45 27.2 29.6 49.8 58.Natural gas, USD/1 mln BTU 2.742 2.346 2.205 2.558 5.767 2.649 4.144 5.162 7.7 12.Gasoline, USD/gallon 0.67 0.569 0.421 0.699 0.895 0.603 0.801 0.841 1.43 2.Copper, USD/t 1968.5 1900.7 1659.2 1748.1 1838.6 1405.1 1519.0 1916.4 3012.0 4060.Aluminum, USD/t 1341.1 1538.5 1354.2 1470.7 1473.5 1280.8 1313.2 1474.8 1822.8 1929.Nickel, USD/t 7060.9 6240.5 4262.4 7984.2 7353.2 4836.8 6840.9 11030.4 14483.2 12403.Source: calculated according to the data of London Metal Exchange (Great Britain, London), International Petroleum Exchange (London) The real effective ruble exchange rate to the currencies of the countries major trade partners of the Russian Federation in October 2005, as compared to the previous month, went up by 0,9%, vs. December 2004 by 9,3%.

The import of goods under the influence of rising the real ruble exchange rate, in conditions of the intensive growth of incomes of enterprises and population, reached the highest level over the last years USD 11.2 bn, exceeding the respective value of 2004 by 26,6%.

The balance of foreign trade in October 2005 reached USD 11 bn, in comparison with USD 8.43 bn a year ago.

According to IETs forecast, in January March 2006 vs. The respective period of 2005, an increment of export will make 26%, while to non-CIS countries - 24%. A general indicator of the value volume of import will grow by 20%, while the import from non-CIS countries - by 38%.

The forecasted increment of the balance of foreign trade with all the countries and non-CIS countries over January-March 2006, vs. the respective period of previous year, will make 30% and 12%, respectfully. The forecasted volume of balance of foreign trade with all the countries over JanuaryMarch 2006 amounts USD 36 bn.

On an annualized basis, the forecasted increment will make on average on the two models 23,5% for indicator of the volume of export to all the countries, and 18,5% - for indicator of the volume of import from all the countries. For indicators of the volume of export to non-CIS countries and the volume of import from non-CIS countries the forecast of annual increment in 2005 will make 29 and 27%, respectfully.

Since 13 to 18 December, 2005, the Six ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was held in Hong-Kong, where the measures were discussed on further liberalization of the world trade within the frame of the so called Dokhiysky round, started in the State of Qatar in 2001.

Originally, it was planned that Dokhiysky round will be generally completed in just in Hong-Kong, but it became clear in mid-year that the positions of the developing and developed countries diverge too much son that to arrive at a general consensus by the end of the year. The main stumbling block became a question of subsidies, that are allocated by the developed countries to their agricultural producers. In the opinion of the representatives of many developing countries, this makes their agricultural pro9ducts non-competitive on the world and local markets.

The result of the Six ministerial conference became a declaration, that provides for cancellation of agricultural subsidies by the end of 2013. The choice of 2013 as a date for cancellation of agricultural subsidies testifies to the success of the delegation of the European Union, which could gain its point.

The EU representatives repeatedly stated that they were not ready to radical reforms of their the agricultural sector to 2013. Most of other countries insisted on cancellation of practice of agricultural subsidies in the EU by the 2010.

Among other important provisions of the resulting declaration - cancellation of all export subsidies to cotton producers in 2006 and provision of duty free importation for 97% of goods from the least developed countries.

In parallel with this, the declaration does not offer any concrete methods of solving the other two key issues of the agenda of Dokhiysky round lowering tariffs for industrial production and liberalization of the sphere of services. According to the text of the resulting declaration, the WTO countries are to manage to agree the remaining issues until April 30, 2006.

Before the start of the Six ministerial conference Russia completed the negotiations on WTO joining with 51 of 58 member countries of this organization. At that conference protocols were signed on completion of the negotiations with Philippines, Nicaragua and Paraguay, as well as a preliminary protocol with Canada, which was a complex partner on negotiations.

Russia has not yet succeeded in completion of the negotiations with Switzerland. In mid-January of 2006 there will be conducted another round, and there is hope that a protocol will be signed at the session of the World Economic Forum in Davos, that will take place in the end of January.

During the negotiations with Columbia there was only one unsettled question: the size of duties on sugar. Soon the Russian side will send to Columbia a package of proposals for solving this question.

An agreement must be reached within the two-three weeks.

But Russia was not a success in its negotiations with most incompliant partners Australia and the USA. Like Columbia, Australia is not satisfied with Russias duties for sugar.

During the negotiations with the U.S. there remained four outstanding issues: the issues of intellectual property protection, the level of duties on aircrafts, veterinary and phytosanitary norms, and most painful problem access to the financial services market.

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