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From 1 January 2004 the Statute on the implementation of the uniform cus toms duties rates and taxes for the goods transported across the border of the Russian Federation by the individuals for the private use came into effect, adopted by the Government of the Russian Federation on 29 November 2003 No 718. Ac cording to it, the individuals could import goods without paying customs duties whose total value did not exceed RUR 65,000 and the total weight is less than kg(with exception for transport vehicles).

In the new wording of the Statute the norms for the duty free luggage transport were reconsidered. Now it is possible to import goods without paying the customs duties if the weight does not exceed 35 kg. The frequency of goods crossing the Russian customs border has also been changed. Whereas earlier it was possible to transport duty free goods not oftener than once a week, now it is possible only once a month. The changes did not influence the monetary value of imported goods. As before individuals can transport goods without paying customs duties and taxes with the total value less than RUR 65,000 with the exception for transport vehicles.

The aim of the changes is to create competition environment equal for all participants of the foreign economic activity. The regime of goods import by individuals that existed before gave the commercial structures the opportunity to import goods without paying customs duties with the help of the shuttle traders, who were specifically employed for this aim. As a result the Federal Budget did not receive considerable sums both from customs and domestic taxation.

Besides, Russia is actively working on its accession to the WTO and shuttle busi ness is included neither in WTO regulations nor in the regulations of the interna tional trade. Whats more, the goods imported into the country duty free by the shuttle business are the cause of discontent among domestic producers. As im ported by the shuttle traders to the country luxury objects are not levied with the excise duties or value added tax, the individuals with high level of incomes are ex cluded from the taxation. Finally, shuttle business implies rather high level of crime.

The goods are not subjected to the due certification on the quality, and infringing goods are often imported. As a result the domestic markets gets overstocked with the import of poor quality.

In 2006 the Government of the Russian Federation paid more attention to the security of free, or at least, nondiscriminatory access of the goods and services to the foreign markets.

Section The Real Sector By the number of export limitations Russia can be considered as one of the most discriminated countries in the world. Whereas at the beginning of January 2001 the number of limitations did not exceed 100, 111 measures are in force against Russian goods according to the data for 11 December 2006, including antidumping duties, 3 price limitations, 1 assortment limitation, 1 import ban, 2 ex tra taxes, 2 tariff quotas, 1 plant sanitary measure, 2 excise taxes, 1 tax regulation of foreign trade and 39 measures implemented by the Republic of Belarus.

10 antidumping and 10 special protective investigations as well as 11 revisions of antidumping measures are being carried out.

19 countries (Australia, Argentina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Brazil, Venezuela, India, Kazakhstan, Canada, China, Mexico, Peru, Uzbekistan, the USA, Thailand, Ukraine, SAR, Azerbaijan), as well as EU countries apply protective measures against Rus sian goods, the damage from which to Russia was equal to USD 2039 mln. Two more countries Philippines and Indonesia started investigations.

In the process of the work on the liberalization of Russian goods access to the foreign markets the Government of the Russian Federation has achieved the fol lowing:

- within the framework of the five year revision of the antidumping duties for steel double tees produced in Russia in order to prolong the measure, initiated by Korean producers, South Korea acknowledged the market status of the Russian economy and the measure was called off as a result;

- the prolongation of the antidumping measures for the certain kinds of oxoalco hols, ferrosilicon in India and of cold rolled sheets in SAR was prevented;

- the antidumping measures against silicon carbide, aluminum foil of the Russian company RUSAL holding in EU were abolished;

- the reconsideration of the antidumping measure, initially implemented on the condition of non acknowledgement of the Russian accounting data for hot rolled steel sheet in Canada;

- in June 2006 the Ukraine called off the decree No 473 from 2004 On with drawal of sugar and starch molasses from the free trade regime with the Rus sian Federation, which led to a considerable increase in Russian goods prices at the Ukrainian market.

As a result of the work intended to protect the interests of the Russian export ers in China it should be noted that despite the fact that against Russian goods antidumping measures are in effect and 3 antidumping investigations are being carried out the implementations of these measures do not do any serious damage to those Russian producers that are really interested in the Chinese market. The only serious obstacle known is the presence of the antidumping duty against syn thetic rubber at the rate of 14 to 38%. Two Russian producers and the Ministry for the Economic Development and Trade having actively participated in the procedure of revision, the Chinese side decided to decrease the duty by 19 times.

As a result of the work carried out to find out new obstacles and liberalize the conditions for the access of Russian goods to the Belarus market, 75 administra tive sanctions, the damage of whose operation is USD 2.8 bln, were detected. Rus sia supposes that there are 19 export limitations for Russian goods access to the market that should be abolished. Russia supposes that Belarus should call off RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks limitations on Russian goods access to the market of the republic. The matter con cerns 9 trade barriers, 2 quotas limitations and 8 administrative sanctions.

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 gen eral 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.

At the same time up to 2007 Belarus was the only country of CIS, which bought Russian crude oil at prices much lower than the world prices. In 2005 the average price for oil grade Urals for Belarus was USD 29.1 per barrel, while on av erage at world market it was USD 50.4 per barrel. This was due to the fact that ex port duty was not included in the price. For its part, in accordance with the bilateral agreement on the creation of common tariff and non tariff regulation, Belarus, fol lowing Russia, should have increased export tariffs for oil and oil products and transfer 85% of the duty for the oil products produced from Russian raw materials to the Russian budget. This agreement, however, was not observed: allocations to the Russian budget were not made, Belarus export duties were more than 30% lower than Russians. For instance, from 1 December 2006 Russian export duty for light distillates and gas oils was equal to USD 134 per ton, Belorussian to USD 75.8; furnace fuel oil, lubricating oils and used oil products export duty from Russia USD 92.9 per ton, while from Belarus USD 72.2 per ton.

As this situation violated state of the art agreements Russia introduced ex port duty for oil supplies to Belarus at the rate of USD 180.7 per ton since 1 January 2007. As retaliation Belarus introduced transit duty for Russian oil at the rate of USD 45 per ton. Russia however refused to pay it. After it became known that Rus sian fuel was taken away by Minsk to pay for new duties, Russian side stopped crude oil pumping through the Belaruss part of pipeline.

As a result, oil supplies to some European countries were stopped on 8 Janu ary 2007. After signing Russia Belarus agreement on January 12, 2007, oil sup plies to Europe were recommenced in corpore.

The signed agreement presupposes the establishment of duty for oil, ex ported to Belarus in the years 2007, 2008 and 2009 at the rate of 29.3; 33.5 and 35.6% from the Russian export duty, correspondingly, and the introduction of ex port duties for light oil products by Belarus in accordance with the Russian legisla tion.

To compensate for privileged oil supply schemes for Belarus abolition, the Ministry of the Economy of Belarus announced a sharp rise in transit costs for Rus sian oil starting from 15 February 2007.

According to the government decree tariffs for oil transit services net of VAT are established at the rate of USD 1.26 to 3.5 per ton for 100 km. Heretofore tariffs in force for oil transit through the territory of Belarus were adjusted with the Minis try of Fuel and Energy of Russia as long ago as December 1995 and did not change since then: they were equal to USD 0.41 0.6 per ton. The Russian oil of 80 mln tonsper year is on average transported through the territory of Belarus. Do these Section The Real Sector tariff rates come into the effect, this will considerably affect the profitability of Rus sian oil transit through Belarus.

In 2006the negotiation process on Russias accession to the World Trade Or ganisation continued.

In November 2006 the representatives of Russia and the USA signed the proto col on Russias accession to the WTO. The agreement with the USA as well as other similar agreements signed by Russia within the framework of the accession to the WTO defines the conditions of goods and services access to the Russian market.

The Russian position according to which no duty will be decreased on the date of Russias accession to the WTO, and tariffs liberalization for separate kinds of goods will be fulfilled in the transition periods from 1 to 7 years.

Average weighted rate on agricultural and industrial production will be decreased by 3 p.p. But for a number of articles the duties will be decreased more sharply. Thus, Russia agreed to open partially the chemicals market (in 3 4 years the decrease of duties rates down to 5 6% will take place), passenger cars (the duties are supposed to be lowered from 25 to 15%) and civil aircrafts (from 20 to 7.512%).

Tariff quotas for beef, pork and poultry import will be in the range of existing parameters up to 2009, after which on conclusion of the negotiations with the suppliers interested in them their operation can be prolonged.

Prohibitive duty for alcohol will remain unchanged, duties rates for foreign wines and cognacs as well as champagne and whisky will decrease from 20 to 12%.

The search for the compromise in the sector of the financial service was the most difficult. Russia did not assume the liabilities for access of the direct branches of the foreign banks to the market and secured the possibility of 50% quotas im plementation for the foreign participation in bank and insurance systems. At the same time Russian side agreed to grant access for the direct insurance companies branches to the market in 9 years time after Russian accession to the WTO.

Georgia remains the only country with which Russia has not concluded bilat eral negotiations on the subject of WTO.

In the autumn 2006 the multilateral negotiations on Russia accession to the WTO were suspended upon the request of Georgia. After consultations Georgia took off its embargo on negotiation process.

As a result of negotiations with Georgia, carried out in the context of WTO on 25 January 2007 Georgia waived all its claims for Russia except one. The issue, connected with the operation of check points in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, re mains unsolved. This claim Georgia considers as the consequence of Russian li abilities in bilateral agreement on Russia joining to WTO, which was completed in 2004. As a result of the negotiations the resolution to exchange legal agreements on the subject of the check points operation at the borders, to give evidence to Georgian party of our customs procedures conformity with WTO regulations, and to make clear the legal character of Georgian claims of the view of our bilateral agreements was made. Next meeting of delegations is scheduled for the end of February, 2007.

Besides the issues of checkpoints operation in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia also brought up a subject of wine and mineral water supplies to Russia. In Spring 2006 the supplies of wine and mineral water to Russia were banned in RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks accordance with the resolution of the Russian consumers supervision organization because of quality complaints.

Besides Georgia, Russia has to sign an agreement with Guatemala, with which all the issues of bilateral talks have already been adjusted.

Mechanism of the final accession to the WTO involves the following stages:

1) conclusion of all negotiations;

2) conduction of the final meeting of the Working Party and General Council;

3) ratification of the Agreement on the Accession to the WTO by legislaytion au thorities;

4) information of WTO headquarters about this;

5) exactly in 30 days after the information letter has been sent the country be comes WTO member.

It is known that Russia is carrying out negotiations in 4 directions. Bilateral negaotiations on tariffs and services (first and second direction) can be considered as the most advanced. Though even here certain problems exist.

1. Despite the fact that 56 out of 152 countries, which have their membership in the WTO have concluded their negotiations with Russia, others can express their desire to conduct bilateral negotiations at any time. Cambodia, which is a new member to the WTO, is an example. At the end of December 2006 Vietnam is accessing the WTO. The possibility that it will express the desire to start bilat eral talks with Russia cannot be excluded.

2. A number of countries, with which the agreements have already been con cluded start inclining to reconsider them The most characteristic example of this is Georgia.

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