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In February demand dynamics became more traditional. Sales growth rates not cleared from seasonality were 16 balance points, which is 1 point over the average value of the second half of 2006 and 2 points over the average annual value. Excluding of the seasonal factor did not change demand growth rate in February or its ratio towards the corresponding average figures of the last year. The situation with the output dynamics was a bit better: initial and cleared from seasonality figures of production exceed the figures of February 2006 and average annual results by 3-9 points.

The estimations of the demand (above below the norm) confirmed slow-down in sales growth as compared with January and the improvement of the dynamics with regard to last year. In February 2007 66% of enterprises estimated their sales as normal, which is worse than January figure by 3 points, but better than the average figure for 2006 by 9 points. Only once during 2006 the satisfaction with the demand was higher (September, 69%), while in February 2006 the demand was considered normal by but 47% of enterprises.

The share of below the norm responds is at present just 30%, i.e. less than one third of Russian manufacturing enterprises are not satisfied with the demand for their products (a year ago there were 51% of such estimations). In 2007 most of such enterprises belong to light industry (47%), construction (41%) and engineering industry (32%).

High growth rates of demand and output provide the increase in facilities utilization in Russian economy.

In the first quarter of 2007 this figure reached 72%, which is a record over the whole period of monitoring 1993-2007. But this record is already bringing about new problems for Russian enterprises.

Involvement of idle facilities into production, which is the easiest way to increase output, becomes more and more complicated due to noncompetitiveness of the latter. Obviously, at the moment idle are only the worst facilities, which the plants nevertheless have in their fixed assets, all efficient facilities are already in operation. Therefore the share of excess facilities in Russian industry stands stockstill at the level of 17% for the second quarter in a row. The share of enterprises with insufficient facilities, on the contrary, has increased by 16% in 2007 (absolute record over 1993-2007). As a result the lack of facilities more and more often becomes an obstacle for production growth. In the beginning of 2007 20% of enterprises reported this (in metallurgy this factor is mentioned by 40% of enterprises, in light industry by 25%, in machine building by 19%, in chemistry and petrochemistry only by 1%).

What Prevents Russian Industrial Enterprises from Investing, in % to the number of respondents 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 nothing 4 3 1 1 2 4 2 3 12 7 10 lack of own financial assets 85 88 91 89 86 87 90 89 76 81 76 high credit interest rate 48 45 34 39 41 28 30 30 24 31 35 difficulties of getting a long-term 26 40 34 39 35 26 23 21 23 21 19 credit low investment profitability 7 14 10 10 7 8 13 12 14 13 14 high prices for the equipment and 35 32 31 32 36 42 40 40 34 40 38 building and assembly jobs excess of existing facilities 5 6 6 7 4 4 4 4 3 2 2 other 7 4 2 2 3 3 2 1 3 1 4 Besides traditional for transition period, but already exhausted way of output expansion by involvement of idle facilities in operation, Russian enterprises more and more often use the most promising way of output expansion, namely investments. And here there is evident progress. First, evaluating the results of their investment activity in 2006, 41% of enterprises were found to be quite satisfied with them. Earlier this index reached 35%. Second, the estimations of investment adequacy in connection with the expected changes in demand went up to 46% in 2007. At the beginning of 2006 40% of enterprises estimated their investments in such a way, and in 2000 only 15%. Third, more than the half of enterprises (52%) invested in construction of capacities with higher labor productivity. Indeed, the share of the enterprises investing in renovation of exhausted facilities remains the biggest (69%). But only 17% of enterprises in Russian industry are engaged in extension of facilities with the same labor productivity.

The main obstacle for investment activity of Russian industrial enterprises was and still remains the lack of own financial assets (see table). This obstacle is the leader in all branches. But the frequency of its quotation over the post-default period has sunk by more than 20 p.p. Loans became more available for investments: only 25% of enterprises complain about high interest rate.

The lack of equipment makes the enterprises plan the output more precisely and send less goods to the storehouses for finished commodities. Since the second half of 2006 the balance of stocks estimations is in the interval of +2+5 balance points, whereas earlier it varied from +10 to +15 b.p. And lower volume of stock reserves means the longer period of customization and less stable operation of an enterprise, which has to react on coming orders on-the-fly. The storehouses of finished commodities stop operating as buffers between the production and the demand, creating problems both for producers and consumers. It seems that Russian industry starts to operate in these very circumstances.

Predicted demand growth rates (seasonal factor excluded) decreased by 2 balance points in February after extremely optimistic December and January, but are still high enough to secure the selling of all the goods produced. The latter enabled the enterprises to reconsider the expected growth rates towards increase by balance points. After excluding seasonality the growth of this increase was equal to 3 points and turned out to be the best over the last 6 months.

S.V.Tsukhlo Foreign Trade In December 2006 main indices of the Russian foreign trade again set a new record. It was the favorable situation at the worlds markets and increase in domestic demand and real disposable population incomes that favored this.

In December 2006 Russian foreign trade turnover, calculated by the balance-of-payments methodology increased up to USD 49.4 bln, exceeding the figures of December of the previous year by 28.6%. Both export and import indices reached the record level. In December 2006 the volume of Russian export reached USD 30.0 bln, which is by 17.1% more than in November 2006, and by 22.7% more than in December 2005.

Export to non-CIS countries was equal to USD 25.8 bln, which is 20.9% more than in the preceding year.

In December 2006 import to Russia reached USD 19.4 bln, exceeding the corresponding figure of the previous month by 20.2%, and the figure of December 2005 by 40.0%. The goods worth USD 16.9 bln were imported from non-CIS countries, which is 43.5% more than in December 2005.

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Balance Export Import Source: Central Bank of the Russian Federation Figure 1. Main Indices of the Russian Foreign Trade (in billions of USD) May May May May May May May Septem Septem Septem Septem Septem Septem Septem January January January January January January January In December 2006 active trade surplus of Russia was equal to USD 10.6 bln, which is 11.9% higher than in November 2006, but is almost equal to the corresponding figure of 2005.

In spite of a certain slow-down in growth of prices for mineral resources used as sources of power, favorable situation for Russian exporters persists at the world markets.

From the end of 2006 OPEC makes attempts to stop the slump in oil prices, which began in September.

The organization made a decision to reduce oil production by 1.2 bln of barrels a day from 1 November. At a special session on 14 December 2006 participating countries came to the decision to reduce the production by 500 thousand barrels a day starting from February 1, 2007. In the opinion of countries, which are OPEC members, the real price for oil should not be lower than USD 60 per barrel.

In comparison with November, in December 2006 the average price for oil grade Brent increased by 9.4% - up to USD 63.1per barrel. In 2006 the average price for oil grade Brent was 19.8% higher than in 2005.

The average world price for oil grade Urals was at the level of USD 57.1 per barrel in December 2006. As a result, even though in the fourth quarter the prices for oil dropped by 14.7% as compared with the preceding quarter, the average price for this Russian oil grade in 2006 was equal to USD 61.0 per barrel, being 21.1% higher than the figure of 2005.

In 2006 the prices for oil products were on average higher than in 2005, premium petroleum being 18%, diesel oil 15%, furnace fuel oil - 30% more expensive).

In 2006 the world prices for the Russian fuel and energy complex production were 25% higher than in 2005.

In 2006 the world market was characterized by the growth of demand and prices for ferrous metals. In December 2006 the world prices FOR (West European market) were equal to: reinforcing steel USD 530550 per ton (increased by 21% in comparison with January 2006), rod USD 490-510 per ton (increased by 15%), girders and channels (300-600 mm) USD 520-540 per ton (increased by 2.9%), hot-rolled sheet USD 600 per ton (increased by 56%), cold-rolled sheet USD 620 per ton (increased by 20%) and zinccoated sheet at the level of USD 700 per ton (increased by 25%).

During 2006 the favorable situation for non-ferrous metals exporters persisted, the level of world prices for all non-ferrous metals reached a maximum over the period of the last 13 years.

At the world market of non-ferrous metals, according to the results of London Metal Exchange quotations with the immediate delivery period, the prices at the end of December 2006 were: aluminum USD per ton (increased by 13% as compared with January 2006), copper USD 6375 per ton (increased by 30%), nickel USD 34300 per ton (increased by 2.3 times), zinc USD 4230 per ton (increased by 82,5%), lead USD 1645 per ton (increased by 17%), tin USD 11190 per ton (increased by 45%).

Table 1.

Average Monthly World Prices in December of the respective year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Oil (Brent), USD/bbl 22,8 17,8 11,5 24,1 25,6 19,0 27,48 29,51 39,6 56,4 63,Natural gas, USD /1 mln BTU 3,093 2,393 2,251 2,558 8,713 2,694 4,873 6,469 6,983 8,87 7,Petroleum, USD /gallon 0,6691 0,5648 0,3739 0,6986 0,7649 0,5398 0,836 0,889 1,141 1,875 1,Copper, USD /ton 2273,3 1834,7 1601,6 1748,1 1914,4 1528,7 1618,6 2187,8 3137,0 4578,0 6643,Aluminum, USD/ton 1459,9 1535,5 1305 1470,7 1562,5 1346,3 1376,2 1553,8 1850,0 2248,0 2816,Nickel, USD /ton 6920,0 6099,0 4202,0 7984,2 7315,4 5219,5 7255,0 14060 13792 13423 Source: calculated on the basis of London Metal Exchange, International Petroleum Exchange (London) data The favorable situation at the world market secured a significant growth of contract prices of the main goods of Russian export. During 2006 weighted average contract prices for oil for non-CIS countries went up by 24.8% in comparison with 2005. In 2006 average export contract price for Russian oil was USD 429.per ton. In August 2006 average contract price for oil reached its maximum value (USD 485.4 per ton).

Starting with September 2006 a tendency for price decrease evolved, price being about USD 200 per ton at the end of the year, which corresponds to the level of January-February 2006.

In 2006 export prices for unprocessed aluminum in comparison with 2006 went up by 25.7%, for copper - by 87.7%, for nickel - by 59.2%, for aluminum wares by 15.2%, for copper wares - by 78.5%.

The price index being very high in 2006, the rates of export growth in real terms are noted to be much more reserved. While in 2004 Russian export grew in real terms by 10.7%, in 2005 only by 4.7%, in by 3.1%. First and foremost this is accounted for by the decrease in actual volumes of oil export.

The increase in import supplies proceeded mainly due to the growth in actual volumes under the influence of revenue growth in the economy, ruble appreciation, increase in the investment activity.

The raise in actual volumes of import was the result of the increase of supply from non-CIS countries, growth rates of actual volumes of import supply from CIS-countries slowing down. Thus, in 2005 the index of actual volumes of import supplies from non-CIS countries was 138.2%, while from CIS-countries 103.6%. At the same time price index for the goods imported from CIS-countries was equal to 113.5%, and for the goods imported from non-CIS-countries only to 104.7%.

The share of CIS countries in Russian turnover continues to reduce: whereas in 2005 they accounted for 15.2% of the Russian commodity turnover, in 2006 - 14.7%.

As a result of 2006 the leader among CIS countries in the trading volume with Russia was the Ukraine, the growth of commodity turnover with which was equal to 19.7% up to USD 24.197 bln. The Russian export to the Ukraine increased by 20.8% up to USD 14.978 bln, while import by 17.9% up to USD 9.bln. The second place is held by Belarus. The commodity turnover between Russia and Belarus grew by 25.9% up to USD 19.934 bln.

Despite the fact, that Russia and Belarus have been engaged in construction of the Union State, which envisages the transfer to the regime of free trade, for many years, there are still a lot of bars preventing access of Russian goods. As a result of the work on the liberalization of conditions for the access of Russian goods to the Belarus market, 75 administrative sanctions, the damage of whose operation is USD 2.8 bln, were detected.

For instance, import to the Republics territory of the Russian malt beer, sugar, produced from cane raw sugar, as well as ocean fish, seafood and products of its processing is carried out only through shelters. Besides, Belarus introduced general licensing of imported tobacco goods. The import is also hindered by a number of administrative sanctions and quotas.

Belarus imposed a ban on purchasing foreign motor-vehicles of big and middle grade for municipal, local and long-distance passenger traffic.

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