Prices for the main foodstuffs imported by Russia has been mainly increasing in 2007, their growth being especially intensive in the second half. Grain crops, oil, butter, milk and dairy, vegetable and fruit products has gone up in price considerably, poultry and beef have also become more expensive.
Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Ma Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Sep Sep Sep Sep Sep Sep Sep Sep Table 1.
Average Monthly Prices in December of the Corresponding Year 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 Oil (Brent), 17.8 11.5 24.1 25.6 19.0 27.48 29.51 39.6 56.4 63.1 90.USD/bbl Natural gas, USD /1 mln 2.393 2.251 2.558 8.713 2.694 4.873 6.469 6.983 8.87 7.353 7.BTU Petroleum, 0.5648 0.3739 0.6986 0.7649 0.5398 0.836 0.889 1.141 1.875 1.638 2.USD /gallon Copper, 1834.7 1601.6 1748.1 1914.4 1528.7 1618.6 2187.8 3137.0 4578.0 6643.9 6580.USD/ton Aluminum, 1535.5 1305 1470.7 1562.5 1346.3 1376.2 1553.8 1850.0 2248.0 2816.9 2380.USD/ton Nickel, 6099.0 4202.0 7984.2 7315.4 5219.5 7255.0 14060 13792 13423 34578 USD/ton Source: calculated on the basis of London Metal Exchange, International Petroleum Exchange (London) Table 2.
Dynamics of Average World Prices for Some Agriculture Goods 2005 2006 July August September October November December Wheat, USD/ton Canadian, CWRS 197.6 216.8 277.7 294.9 357.7 386.3 391.0 473. American, HRW 152.4 192.0 238.4 259.7 326.5 335.1 321.8 368. American, SRW 135.7 159.0 225.6 253.9 325.7 325.5 307.7 345.American corn, USD./ton 98.7 122.9 138.5 150.3 164.1 164.2 171.3 180.Barley, USD./kilo 95.0 117.0 178.0 159.0 185.0 197.0 188.0 199.Soybeans, USD./kilo 274.4 268.4 375.5 385.0 426.0 450.0 489.0 515.Soy oil, USD/ton 545.1 598.6 885.4 909.0 959.0 1012.0 1138.0 1155.Source: World Bank.
Nevertheless, prices growth rates for all import products were lower in 2007 than export prices growth rates – the fact that testifies that conditions for Russian trade with foreign countries have improves as compared with the previous year.
At the end of 2007 import growth rates have somewhat slowed down remaining however high because of considerable internal demand of the population, growth of investment activity as well as real ruble exchange rate appreciation. The increase in import value was primarily accounted for by the expansion of physical volumes of import mainly form non-CIS countries. The role of price factor extended simultaneously.
In December 2007 import was equal to USD 24.99 bln, exceeding the similar figure of the previous year by 26.2%. Goods worth USD 21.91 bln were imported from non-CIS countries, which is by 27.1% more than in December 2006. From CIS countries goods worth 3.08 bln were imported – growth by 20.3%.
Positive Russia’s foreign trade balance in December 2007 was equal to USD 10.6 bln, which is by 39.3% higher than in December 2006. Thus, the trend of positive trade balance reduction that was observed in 1st3rd quarter 2007 did not sustain in the 4th quarter. On the whole over the year positive trade balance reduced by 5.1% as compared with the previous year and was equal to USD 139.2 bln. It should be noted that a more dramatic decrease of positive trade balance was expected and only growth of oil prices at the end of the year smoothed over the drop. High world prices for mineral resources used as sources of energy that have sustained at the beginning of 2008 give grounds to reconsider recent forecasts on imminent negative trade balance. It is unlikely that this will happen soon.
Despite a considerable growth of Russia’s foreign trade indices its main problems linger. The most serious of them is sustention of raw materials direction of the Russian export. Export of machine-building production is increasing slowly: as compared with 2006 growth was equal only to 13.1%. The share of machinery, equipment and transport vehicles in the total volume of the Russian export decreased down to 5.6% in as compared with 5.8% in 2006.
It is mainly the goods of military purposes that are promoted rapidly abroad. Starting from 1999 Russian export of weapons has constantly been growing. In 2007 the total sum of Russian military equipment export supply abroad through the government intermediary Russian defense export was equal to USD 6.1 bln (USD 5.3 bln in 2006).
In the first months of 2008 however there were reports appearing that foreign partners refuse to work with Russian producers of military equipment.
On 17 February Algeria declared the return of 15 aircrafts MiG-29 – the event that had never before happened in the history of Russia’s military collaboration. The contract worth USD 1286 bln for supply of single-seat MiG-29SMT and six two-seat fighters MiG-26UB was signed by State Corporation Russian Defense Export (Rosoboronoexport) and the Algerian party. After the delivery of the first consignment at the end of 2006, aircrafts purchase was suspended. The Algerian party raised a claim to the quality of two MiG29UB. The complaints of Algeria concerned the components that had used before or were out-of-date. Russian party is sure that the complaints are ungrounded and aircrafts’ bundling is in agreement with the contract. The conflict had been protracted despite the fact that the Russian party was willing to correct the defects. In the end the contract was saved thanks to the talks of the Russian and Algerian presidents that took place in February 2008. The aircrafts will be sent back to the producers in the forthcoming months and in return Algeria will get more modern and expensive MiG models and non-aviation equipment.
On 21 February 2008 the Norwegian company “Odfjell ASA” declared denouncement of its contract with the Federal State Unitary Enterprise “Production Association Northern machine-building enterprise” (Sevmash) for the building of chemicals carriers. Odfjell ASA makes business sin the field of chemicals and liquid oil products transportation. According to Odfjell’s statement, “Due to serious delays during construction, combined with the requirements to increase the contract price, continuous problems in collaboration and protracted negotiations the company made a decision to direct the notification of contract denouncement to Sevmash”.
In 2004 the sides came to agreement that the contract price would be USD 500 mln. It was later increased to USD 544 mln. The construction of the first chemicals carrier project R-668 of 45 thousand tons displacement for Odfjell started in December 2005. The first tanker was planned to deliver to the customer in but the deadline was violated.
According to the official statement of Sevmash, the enterprise “rejects vigorously the accusation and claims, in its turn, that it has carried out its responsibility as to tankers’ construction conscientiously; however the customer imposing the paragraph of the contract on fixing the 2004 price for the whole period of tankers construction lead to deficit of funds, and negotiations on establishment of a fair price have been unsuccessful”.
On 26 February the delegacy from India visited Sevmash enterprise to make a decision on the finishing of aircraft-carrier “Admiral Gorshkov” (“Vikramaditya”) construction. The contract was signed in 2004 and according to it about USD 750 mln was allocated for its modernization. The money has already been spent but the aircraft-carrier’s modernization has not been finished. Moreover, Russian party declares that the work content was originally 70% below than that necessary. Not only does it require additional payment but also insists on changing the date of ship’s commissioning from 2011 to 2013, which is not suitable for the Indian party.
Besides, in the middle of January India made complaints as to another contract. Because of defects in work Dehli refused to accept submarine “Sinduvidjai” modernized in Russia that was sent to military shipyard “Zvezdochka” in Severodvinsk at the end of 2005.
Yet earlier, in September 2007, representatives of the Indian navy informed that lease of the Russian nuclear submarine Chakra project 971 “Shchuka-B” to India has been postponed to 15 June 2008, since Amur shipyard (Komsomolsk-on-Amur) delays its construction for 10 months. Russia has also insisted on increasing the contract price from USD 650 mln to 785 mln. India has agreed with the deferment but refused to reconsider the price.
Last year India refused to accept the patrol aircraft IL-38 and diesel-electric submarine Project 877EKM because of complaints for the quality of the works. As a result of these delays and problems at the beginning of December the Indian party declared that Delhi can reconsider the format of defense and technological collaboration with Russia.
China, which has been one of the main customers of Russian military equipment, also has some complaints. For instance, the Chinese party is not satisfied with the quality of the equipment that was supplied to Tien Van nuclear power station. The agreement signed in 2005 for supply to China of 38 aircrafts IL-76 and IL-78 worth billion of rubles was also ruined.
In the nearest future the main problem for Russian export is the technological lag of the defense industry which is accounted for by, first of all, insufficient financing of research and development work and government purchase of weapons. Deterioration of the fixed assets, whose wear is approximately 70% at present, absence of sufficient funds to prepare serial production of new kinds of weapons, low management level can finally result in the loss of competitive capacity of the Russian weapons at the world market.
Inflation, Monetary and Credit Policy P. Trunin As of January results, the inflation in the RF stayed at the high level, having reached 2.3 per cent as compared with 1.7 per cent in the relevant period of the preceding year. Herewith, foreign currency assets were being accumulated in the country, the volume if which amounted to USD 483.2 bln on February 1, 2008. From February 1, the Central Bank of Russia has raised the refinancing rate for the first time since the summer of 1998, demonstrating to the financial agents, that the RF Central Bank priority is inflation suppression. At the same time, interest rates were increased on deposits of commercial banks with the RF Central Bank, as well as the threshold of deductions to mandatory reserve fund since March 1, 2008.
The consumer price index in January made 2.3 per cent (against 1.7 per cent in January 2007 (see Fig. 1.).
The greatest contribution to the prices growth in January (+ 1.7 per cent), like before, was made by an upsurge of prices for commercial public services, which average growth made 5.4 per cent. The utmost growth was noted in prices for housing utilities (+11.8 per cent), health-care and resort services (+4.9 per cent), preschool education (+ 4.2 per cent), as well as public transport (+3.8 per cent).
Food stuffs prices were also speedily growing in January: their growth rate (+1.9 per cent) was twice higher than in January 2007. Herewith, it is worth mentioning, that in January the agreement of the government with the leading trade networks to freeze prices for socially significant goods was still in effect. Moreover, the term of that agreement was extended up to May 1, 2008. Nevertheless, despite administrative efforts to restrain prices, in January an upsurge was observed in the costs of milk and dairy products (+2.3 per cent), fruit and vegetables (+8.3 per cent), butter (+2per cent) and granulated sugar (+2 per cent). Probably, the agreement on freezing prices for socially significant goods has provided certain impact, but one should realize, that such measures can only shift the price upsurge from pre-election campaign to a later period. In other words, as soon as the agreement term expires, most probably, prices will rapidly catch up with the level, that ensures stable profitability to trading networks.
In January, high rates of growth were observed also in regard to non-food items, which average nationwide prices have increased during the month by 0.6 per cent The highest growth rates were noted in January for motor gasoline (+1.4 per cent) and tobacco (+1.4 per cent). Herewith, no downgrading was observed in any type of non-food items.
Therefore, consumer price index growth rate was rather high in January. According to our estimates, in February CPI accounted to 1.3 per cent, which makes it practically infeasible to reach the CPI in the amount of 8.5 per cent, estimated by the government plan for the year results. The basic consumer price index2 in January 2008 amounted to 1.1 per cent (as compared with the indicator of the relevant period of preceding year, 0.6 per cent).
Within January 2008, the volume of monetary base (in broad definition3) has been decreased by RUR 581.5 bln to the amount of RUR 4931.8 bln (- 10.5 per cent). Let us consider the dynamics of monetary base in broad definition by components.
The volume of cash in circulation, including the cash balances of credit institutions, as of February 1, 2008 was RUR 3.76 trillion (-8.6 per cent as compared with January 1), the correspondent accounts of credit institutions with the Bank of Russia made RUR 545.7 bln (-32 per cent), mandatory reserves – RUR 234 bln (+5.6 per cent), credit organizations’ deposits with the Bank of Russia accounted to RUR 286.4 bln (+6 per cent), the value of the Bank of Russia’s bonds held by credit institutions – RUR 101.3 bln (+0.6 per cent). It is worth noting, that the reduction in the monetary supply in January was largely based on seasonal factors as a consequence of the return to the traditional trend after an upsurge at the end of the year, caused by excessive budget expenditures.
In January of the current year the decreased volume of cash in circulation (-8.6 per cent), at the background of increased mandatory reserves (+5.6 per cent) has resulted in reduction of monetary base in a narrow definition (cash+ mandatory reserves)4 by 7.7 per cent (see Fig. 2). At the same time, the gold and for Basic index of consumer prices is an indicator of the inflation level without regard to seasonal price reduction (fruit and vegetable products) and to administrative measures (tariffs for government-regulated services, etc.). It is estimated by the RF Statistics Service The RF monetary base in broad terms with no regard to the cash issued by the Bank of Russia and the balance of Compulsory Reserve Accounts on credit organizations in national currency, deposited in the Bank of Russia, taking into account the assets of correspondent accounts and bank deposits, allocated in the Bank of Russia..