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The Rosstat (Federal State Statistic Service) data for January testify to suspension of the trend towards the growth of output production. With account of the seasonal and calendar factors, the daily average output of production decreased in January by 0.9% against the growth of 0.9% per month in the fourth quarter of 2005. According to TSMAKP (the Center of Macroeconomic Analysis and ShortTerm Forecasting) estimates, the dynamics of production by specific types of activity was characterized at the start of the year by: reduction of the volumes of oil production (-0.4% vs. the growth by 0.5% per month in the fourth quarter of 2005); reduction of the output in most of manufacturing industries apparently because of considerable number of off days, exceeding the limits of week holidays; decline in the production of hard liquors; considerable increase in generation of heat and electric energy due to anomalously cold weather conditions early in the year.

The official data on the output dynamics in January differ from immediate results of polls. The latter registered early in the year only slowing down of the output growth. Most likely, the cause of such discord is in exceedingly long New Year holidays and the cold weather, which consequences for the production are assessed differently by the managers of enterprises and official statistics.

Last months the effective demand shows relatively high (vis--vis the middle of last year) and stable growth rates (after clearance from seasonal factor). However, its volumes still does not suit enter prises. The share of answers below the rate was grown in January-February to 50-52% - producers counted on greater volumes of sales, particularly in light industry and the machine-building (where dissatisfaction with demand reached 65%), as well as in building industry (58%). In other industries dominate estimates normal.

One could observe in February the restoration of traditional correlation of output/demand dynamics:

according to enterprises estimates, the production growth rates again insignificantly surpass the demand growth rates. January showed the inverse correlation output fell behind the sales, which is observed the second year in succession since the time the official January holidays were sanctioned.

Now the main (65%) part of enterprises support changes in the output in compliance with the demand dynamics, the production of 25% of enterprises grows by advanced rates, 10% of them - fall behind the demand. Vis--vis January, the output growth rates (balance) increased and reached +18% (after seasonal clearance). Except the electric power and fuel industries, the polls registered growth everywhere. The optimistic data on the output dynamics are also confirmed by the information of capacity utilization. In the 1st quarter of 2006 such indicator reached its absolute maximum and amounted 67% during the whole period of monitoring. In the fuel industry the capacity utilization is 87%, in lumber industry 82%, in metallurgy 79%, in light industry 69%, the machine-building and building industry 61%. The minimum capacity utilization at the start of 2006 was registered in the food industry (59%).

Though the intensity of growth of production surpasses the intensity of growth of sales, the balance of estimations of the stock of finished products lowered in February by 3 points, while the share of estimations normal remains at the level of 57-58%. Enterprises are certain that in the months to follow the growth of demand will provide the problem-free sale of available warehouse items, while in some cases it will require intensification of production.

The fact that the share of enterprises, which have excessive (relative to demand) production capacities, lowered testifies to the growth of optimism in industry. In the 1st quarter of 2006 this indicator reached 19%, which is an absolute minimum over the whole period of monitoring. Minimum has been reached in machine-building (25%), chemistry and petrochemistry (4%). It should be said that the investment activity in 2005 already satisfied 35% of enterprises, while at the start of post-default growth satisfaction reached only 11%. The main line of investment in the pest year was renovation of facilities (66%), development of new facilities with greater productivity (51%) and reduction in energy and material consumption (35%). Only 14% of enterprises were involved in 2005 in expansion of capacities with the former productivity.

The forecasts of change of demand improved in February by another 8 points (according to the data not cleared from seasonality) and reached an absolute record industry never saw such optimistic (though not cleared form seasonal factor) expectations of sales growth. Clearness from seasonality reduced optimism and showed maintenance of forecasts at January, not a record, but rather a high level. The growth of sales is forecasted in all industries (except for due to seasonality the electric power), most intensive is possible in the building industry, chemistry and petrochemistry, food and machine-building industries.

The production plans of enterprises (before clearance from seasonality) also reached the historical maximum: the growth of output is now planned by 59% of producers, while only 6% expect its decline. Clearance from seasonal factor corrected the balance towards decline, but retained its high optimism the best correlation of output plans (growth-decline) for the last five years was registered by polls only in the 1st quarter of 2005. The investment intentions of enterprises also became record ones:

the growth of procurement of plant and equipment is expected in the 2d quarter by 27% of enterprises vs. 4% of them to plan their decline. A year ago the correlation was the worse: 23 to 6.

S.V. Tsukhlo Foreign Trade In December 2005 the main indicators of the Russian foreign trade again reached record values.

This was caused by favorable state of affairs of the world market, as well as the growth of domestic demand and the real disposable incomes of population.

The RF government once again took the measures of tightening the conditions of conducting the so called shuttle business.

The foreign trade turnover of Russia, calculated according to the balance of payment methodology, was grown in December 2005 to USD 38.6 bn, exceeding the December indicator of the prior year by 30.4%. The record level had been achieved both by export and import indicators. The export of Russia in December 2005 reached USD 24.6, which is greater by 10.8% than in November 2005, and by 27.9% - than in December 2004. The export to far-abroad countries amounted USD 21.5 bn, which is greater by 35.5%, than a year before.

In December 2005 import into Russia reached USD 14.0 bn, which exceeded the respective value of the previous month by 14.8%, while the December 2004 indicator by 25.3%. From the far-abroad countries there were imported goods to the amount of USD 11.8, which is greater by 31.1%, than in December 2004.

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Balance Export Import Source: Central Bank of the RF Figure. Major Indices of the Russian Foreign Trade (USD bn) In December 2005 the trade surplus of Russia amounted USD 10.6 bn, which is greater by 6% than in November 2005, and by 30.9% - than in December 2004. The trade surplus with far-abroad countries made up USD 9.6 bn (growth by 41.2% vs. December of the prior year).

Table 1.

Monthly Average World Prices in December of Corresponding Year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Oil (Brent), USD/ barrel 22.8 17.8 11.5 24.1 25.6 19.0 27.48 29.51 39.6 56.Natural gas, USD/mln BTU 3.093 2.393 2.251 2.558 8.713 2.694 4.873 6.469 6.983 11.Gasoline, USD/gallon 0.6691 0.5648 0.3739 0.6986 0.7649 0.5398 0.836 0.889 1.141 1.Copper, USD/t 2273.3 1834.7 1601.6 1748.1 1914.4 1528.7 1618.6 2187.8 3137.0 4578.Aluminum, USD/t 1459.9 1535.5 1305 1470.7 1562.5 1346.3 1376.2 1553.8 1850.0 2248.Nickel, USD/t 6920.0 6099.0 4202.0 7984.2 7315.4 5219.5 7255.0 14060 13792 Source: calculated according to the data of London Metal Exchange, International Petroleum Exchange (London) The unprecedently high rates of Russian export increment is caused by exclusively favorable dynamics of the world prices for oil and other energy sources, as well as metals.

Jul Jul Jul Jul Jul Jul Okt Okt Okt Okt Okt Okt Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Apr Apr Apr Apr Apr Apr According to the estimates of the Bank of Russia, the world prices with account of the Russian export structure as aggregated by goods, including roughly 70% of its cost, went up in December of 2005 vs. the previous month, on average by 2.2%. In 2005, as compared to 2004, they were higher by 34.9%.

In the first half of 2005 the oil prices went up on the world market. The growth of prices was stimulated by the forecast of the World Energy Agency on increase of the world oil consumption in 2006, cooling, and (connected with it) considerable growth of prices for natural gas in the U.S., as well as disturbances in deliveries of Iraq oil.

In mid-December the oil prices went down because of warming. Besides, at the special session that was held in Kuwait on December 12 OPEC decided not to change the production of oil in the 1st quarter at a level of 30 mln barrels a day (with account of Iraq).

In December 2005 vs. November the average oil price of Brent, Dubaiskaya and Zapadnotekhasskaya went up by 2.5% up to USD 56.4 a barrel, the oil Urals went up by 3.9% up to USD 53.9 a barrel. In 2005, as compared to 2004, the oil prices were higher on average by 41.3 and 45.6% respectfully.

In December 2005 vs. the previous month, the prices for oil products went down on average by 0.3% (diesel fuel went down by 0.3%, fuel oil by 1.2%; gasoline went up by 4.1%). In 2005, as compared to 2004, the prices for oil products were higher on average by 44.1% (gasoline went up by 26.3%, diesel fuel 42.7%, fuel oil by 52.3%).

As compared to the previous month, the prices for natural gas in Europe went up in December by 0.4%, in the U.S. by 23.0%. In 2005 vs. 2004, the natural gas in Europe went up by 47.9%, in the U.S. by 51.2%.

In December 2005 vs. the previous month, the world prices for products of the Russian fuel and energy complex went up on average by 2.0%. In 2005, as compared to 2004, they were higher by 43.9%.

The growth of prices for non-ferrous metals was caused in December 2005 by their high demand on the world market, particularly on the part of China. As compared to the previous month, aluminum went up by 9.6%, copper by 7.2%, nickel by 10.8%. In 2005, as compared to 2004, the prices for non-ferrous metals were higher on average by 10.6% (copper went up by 28.4%, aluminum by 10.5%, and nickel 6.8%).

The high world market prices boosted further growth of contract prices practically for all the assortment of goods of the Russian export. During the year the average weighted contract prices for oil went up by 47.9%, as compared to 2004. The contract prices for basic assortment of ferrous and nonferrous metals went up. The export prices for non-treated aluminum grew in 2005 vs. 2004 by 12.5%, copper - by 31%, nickel - by 11.8%, aluminum products - by 15.2%, and copper products by 78.5%.

Under the very high price index in 2005 one can observe the slower pace of export growth in physical terms. While in 2004 the Russian export grew in physical terms by 10.7%, in 2005 - only by 4.7%.

This is so primarily because of decline in actual volumes of the oil export.

The high growth of Russian import is maintained by further expansion of the domestic demand at the real efficient ruble strengthening. According to estimates of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of Russia, the strengthening of Ruble/USD exchange rate for 2005 made in real terms 3.9%, to euro 18.7%, the real effective exchange rate 10.6%. As of the end of 2005, the USD exchange rate in real terms made up 97.9% of the pre-crisis level (July 1998), the real effective exchange rate 93.1%.

The expansion of domestic demand is boosted by dynamically grown real disposable incomes of population. Since September 2005, the growth rates of the real disposable incomes of population surpass the 2004 indicators. Totally, for 2005 their growth amounted 108.8%, while for 2004 109.9%.

A boost in the volumes of import of goods occurred due to growth of deliveries from the far-abroad countries with the volumes of import from CIS countries falling. Thus, the index of actual volume of import deliveries from the far-abroad countries made in 2005 131.2%, while from CIS countries 93.8%, with the price component to indicate the import from CIS countries. The price index for products brought from CIS countries was 113.9%, while for those brought from the far-abroad countries only 104.8%.

In early 2006, the government of Russia again took measures to tighten the conditions of the socalled shuttle business running. Since February 26, 2006, the RF Government Resolution No. 29 of 23.01 came into force, that introduced changes in the Provision on application of single duty rates and taxes concerning goods brought across the border by private individuals.

Shuttle business began developing in the early 1990s, when this type of business became the main method of earning money, and also because of the possibility of free of charge importation of goods by private individuals to the amount up to USD 5000. Formally, only the goods that were brought in only for personal consumption were not imposed with customs dues, but, in fact, this benefit opened the channel for duty-free commercial import. It should be said that at first, people, who were engaged in shuttle business operations did not register their entrepreneurial activity and, selling their goods on open markets, did not pay any taxes except for dues for trading right coming to local budgets.

As a result, for a long period of time shuttle; business was characterized by very high efficiency and the rate of profit in this business was not lower than 100% for one trip. Such an efficiency and scales of turnover led to formation around shuttle; business of the developed infrastructure, that included wholesale markets, tourist and transport companies in Russia, as well as hotels, shops, warehouses and factories in Turkey, China and other supplying countries, that were specialized on servicing Russian clients.

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