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In February, the growth in output at the rates outpacing the rates of increase in demand resulted in the growth in the share of enterprises with excessive finished stocks. The balance of evaluations of finished stocks increased to + 18 per cent, what is the maximum value observed over the last months; however, this change is well within the band of traditional fluctuations of this indicators since the middle of 2001, when enterprises switched from the task of minimization of finished stocks at their warehouses to the task of maintaining of the stocks at an excessive level. The latter circumstance permits to rapidly meet orders of new (unexpected) buyers.

In the beginning of the year, the forecasts of changes in demand are traditionally characterized by high levels of optimism. In February, the balance of expectations reached 32 p. p., what is below the absolute record of the total period of monitoring (February of 2004) by only 1 point. Ay increase in the rates of sales is expected across all industries with the exception of electrical power engineering.

The plans of changes in output demonstrate even higher optimism both in comparison with the data collected in the preceding months, and in comparison with the forecasts of demand. In February of 2005, 60 per cent of Russian enterprises reported that they intend to increase their outputs in the next few months. Over the preceding months, this indicator was registered at only 54 per cent. However, feasibility of these plans may encounter more moderate dynamics of demand. At almost third of enterprises, the planned changes in output outpace the expected changes in demand. This ratio persists in the industry for the 2nd month running.

S. V. Tsukhlo Foreign trade In December 2004, major indicators of the Russian foreign trade hit record level for the past years. That promote the favorable world market conjuncture, as well as the growth of domestic demand and real disposable incomes of population.

In negotiating the Russias accession to WTO, that took place in Geneva in February 2005, the Russian party achieved a certain progress with a number of countries, including Norway, Japan, U.S. and Canada.

In December 2004, the Russias foreign trade turnover, calculated according to balance of payment methodology, made up USD 28.8 bn, which is a record figure for the last 10 years, in so doing both export and import indicators achieved the record level. The Russias export n December 2004 made USD 19.3 bn, which is by 8,4% higher than in November 2004, and by 38,3% greater than in December 2003. The export to western countries made up USD 15.9 bn., which is by 36% higher than in the previous year.

In December 2004, import into Russia reached USD 10.3 bn, which exceeded the same indicator of previous month by 14,4%, while that of December 2003 by 21,9%. From the western countries there had been imported goods to the amount of USD 8.2 bn, which is by 21,6% greater than in December 2003.

The Russias trade surplus in December 2004 was USD 9 bn, which is by 2,3% greater than in November 2004, and by 63,6% - than in December 2003. The positive balance with the western countries reached USD 7.6 bn (increase by 55,8%, as compared to December of previous year).

Unprecedented high growth rates of Russian export can be explained by exclusively favorable world oil (and other energy) price dynamics, and also prices of metals. In December 2004, in comparison with previous month, by estimation of the Bank of Russia, the world prices of Russias export goods (according to commodity composition, containing about 65% of their cost), decreased, on average by 2,9%, but compared with December 2003. they were higher by 22,8%.

-1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 Balance Export Import Source: Goskomstat of the RF, CB of the RF Fig. 1. Major Indices of the Russian Foreign Trade (bn dollars) Table 1.

Monthly Average World Prices in December of Corresponding Year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 Oil (Brent), USD/barrel 22.8 17.8 11.5 24.1 25.6 19.0 27.48 29.51 39.Natural gas, USD/1 3.093 2.393 2.251 2.558 8.713 2.694 4.873 6.469 6.mln. BTU Gasoline, USD/gallon 0.6691 0.5648 0.3739 0.6986 0.7649 0.5398 0.836 0.889 1.Copper, USD/t 2273.3 1834.7 1601.6 1748.1 1914.4 1528.7 1618.6 2187.8 3137.Aluminum, USD/t 1459.9 1535.5 1305 1470.7 1562.5 1346.3 1376.2 1553.8 1850.Nickel, 6920.0 6099.0 4202.0 7984.2 7315.4 5219.5 7255.0 14060 USD/t Source: based on the data of the London Metal Exchange, International Oil Exchange (London) On December 10, at a regular meeting in Cairo the oil ministers of OPEC countries took a decision on strict observance by the cartel countries of individual quotas, which in previous months were substantially overdrawn. A reaction to such OPEC decision became a short-time resumption of rise in prices in the second half of December 2004. In addition, the situation in the oil industry of Iraq contributed to maintenance of high oil prices.

In December 2004, the prices of oil products decreased. In comparison with previous month the diesel fuel went down by 8,7%, gasoline - by 10,7%; fuel oil went up by 1,2%. On average, the oil products became cheaper by 6%. As compared to December 2003, the prices of oil products were, on average, higher 1,3 times (gasoline was higher by 28,3%, diesel fuel - by 48%, fuel oil - by 7%).

In December 2004, in comparison with previous month, the prices of natural gas in Europe went up by 1%, in the U.S. - by 8%. In comparison with December 2003, in Europe the natural gas was more expensive by 26%, in the U.S. - by 7,9%.

Thus, in December 2004 (as compared to previous month), the world prices of the production of Russias Fuel and energy complex went down, on average, by 2,7%, while, in comparison with December 2003, they were 1,2 times higher.

In December 2004, as compared to previous month, the prices of non-ferrous metals increased on average by 0,7%, with aluminum to go up by 2%, copper - 0,4%; nickel became cheaper by 1,7%.

Rise in prices of aluminum (to the highest level since September 1995) and copper was triggered by growing demand for those non-ferrous metals on the part of their largest consumer - China. Lowering the prices of nickel in December 2004 could be explained by less shortage of this metal on the world market, from 40 thous. tons in 2003 to 10 thous. tons in 2004. With regard to December 2003, the Jul.

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prices of non-ferrous metals were, on average, higher by 12% (aluminum was cheaper by 19%, copper - by 43,4%). Nickel became cheaper by 1,9%.

The growth of export was due to an increase of physical volumes of exported goods. Physical volumes had been increased of the export of oil, gasoline, fuel oil, natural gas, aluminum, wood products, individual types of ferrous metals, chemical raw materials, mineral fertilizers, cars. In the commodity composition of export in 2004, in comparison with 2003, somewhat increased a share of energy products, substantial increased observed in the share of ferrous metals, and to a lesser degree the share of non-ferrous metals. The export value share of machines, equipment and transport means lowered.

The growth of import was caused largely by an increase in the cost of investment goods. The cost increased of import of raw materials and industrial production of intermediate use, nonfood goods (especially medications, clothes, furniture) and individual food products (mainly cereal crops, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, fish, white sugar, condensed milk). In the commodity composition of import the share of machines, equipment and transport means increased, while the share of consumer goods - decreased.

On February 14, 2005, the next round of bilateral negotiations took place in Geneva relating to Russias accession to WTO. The negotiations for the access to the market of goods and services were held with participation of 15 countries, including the USA, Japan, Australia, Switzerland, and Norway. At present Russia had already finished the negotiations for access to the markets with 27 WTO members.

After reaching, in 2004, an agreement with the European Union and China, agreement with the US remains to be the most serious problem.

At the last meeting Russia succeeded in convincing the American party in rightness of the Russian position on prohibition of opening in Russia of branches of foreign banks. The Russian party still continues to insist that only representative offices or subsidiary structures of foreign banks may operate in Russia. This limitation had been introduced because foreign affiliates do not fall in full within the supervision of our regulatory bodies and the effect of Russian legislation. It is a reminder that earlier Russia had already reached an agreement with the EC member states on liberalization of access of foreign banks to the Russian market. But such liberalization is far from being complete, in the course of the negotiations our country despite a ban on opening foreign banks affiliates defended quotas for presence of foreign financial institutions on the Russian market.

Finally, all issues related to financial services will be discussed by the finance ministers of the two countries at a meeting of big eight (G8). In addition, Russia had agreed with the U.S. that in accession to WTO Russia will retain export duties on energy products. During the transition period export duties will also be retained on ferrous and non-ferrous metals. During the negotiations principle agreements had also been achieved in the energy sphere on double pricing and aircrafts import duties.

With regard to the last issue, there was a dispute of long standing between the two countries. The USA requires zeroing of foreign aircraft import dirties for Russia. During the negotiations with the that issue had been solves as follows - Europeans may count on reduction of car and aircraft import duties in 6-7 years after accession to WTO.

Besides, the USA is seriously concerned with Intellectual property protection, mostly in music and cinematography. Losses of the American companies (producers of software, motion pictures, pieces of music, etc.) from the actions of Russian "intellectual pirates" in 2004 made up USD 1.7 bn. During the past negotiations major principles of IP protection had been specified, but this issue will still be discussed separately.

At a summit, that took place on February 24 in Bratislava, the presidents of Russia and USA, Vladimir Putin and George Bush made several joint statements, including On the Issue of Russias Accession to the World Trade Organization, which says that Russia and the USA are adhered to their obligations of joint work aimed at completing bilateral negotiations for Russias accession to the World Trade Organization in 2005.

After the U.S next thing on the agenda is negotiating with Japan, Canada and Brazil. If a compromise has been reached with them, Russias accession to WTO may happen during the conference which will take place in December 2005 in Hong Kong.

N.Volovik Privatization and management of state owned property This section analyzes of major trends and problems of implementation of privatization policies in 2004 and the beginning of 2005. It focuses on the issues of adjustment of the program for years 2003 2008, the difficulties associated to the sale of the blocks of shares still owned by the state, and the reform of the institution of SUEs, as well as certain privatization transactions.

In 2004, the gradual implementation of the key components of the new Concept of management of federal property11 started in 2003 was characterized by its increasing fragmentation. The apparent objective factor behind this development was the reorganization of the structure of the executive authorities, which included the liquidation of the RF Ministry of Federal Property and the creation of the Federal agency for management of federal property (FAMFP, or Rosimushchestvo) subjected to the RF Ministry of economic development and trade, which was vested with the regulation-making powers in the sphere of privatization12. The need for a relatively prolonged adaptation period in the process and after the completion of the reorganization, respective changes as concerns the staff (primarily, the resignation of a significant number of the employees of the RF Ministry of Federal Property), more complex structure of administration in this sphere resulting in coordination problems (because of the fact that RFFI had not been liquidated even in spite of the fact that RFFI retained only the functions of a seller), the possibility that the FAMFP may be re-subjected to a new authority (for instance, it may be directly subjected to the Chairman of the RF Government) resulted in the mostly inertial and spontaneous nature of the activity carried out by the state in the sphere of management of property it owned in 2004.

In fact, the 3 year privatization program became the only component of the new Concept of management of federal property implemented in 2004. In particular, there was envisaged the following order of action:

- 2003 privatization of state owned blocks of shares below 2 per cent of the authorized capital;

- 2004 withdrawal of the state from all joint stock companies, where the share of the state made less than 25 per cent;

- 2005 withdrawal of the state from all joint stock companies, where the share of the state made from 25 per cent to 50 per cent (in particular, the withdrawal from the capitals of companies in the energy construction complex, fishery, companies engaged in external economic activities, mechanical engineering, and cinematography);

- 2006 cessation of state participation in the companies, where the state owned more than 50 per cent of shares not included in the list of strategically important enterprises (in particular, the civil aviation companies, whose activities are not related to the ensuring of state security and flight safety, chemistry, petrochemistry, geology, a number of branches of agriculture), including the sale of shares in the joint ventures created in the process of reorganization of SUEs;

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