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The main positive factors behind the growth in the index were changes in effective demand. According to assessments made by enterprises, the intensity of growth in cash sales has increased (without seasonal adjustment) by 42 balance points since the beginning of the year. While in January cash demand contracted rather intensively (the balance made 24 %), in March sales intensively grew (+ 18 %). Such high growth rates have not been registered since October of 2001. An increase in demand was registered across all industries except (due to the season factors) power engineering. The most intensively sales grew in mechanical engineering, construction industry, and metallurgy.

Although real profits continued to decline across industries, the rates of decrease decelerated to 7 % (in terms of the balance) in the industry at large. An absolute growth of this indicator (positive balance values) were registered in metallurgy and forestry complex. As concerns other industries, the profits continue to decline, although not so intensively as a month ago.

Table The share of enterprises reporting about an actual decline in their tax arrears, in % of the total number of enterprises in the respective industry Industries 10/01 2/02 5/02 8/02 11/03 2/Power engineering 50 48 28 50 73 Ferrous metallurgy 13 3 0 28 0 Non-ferrous metallurgy 20 2161324 Chemistry and petrochemistry 25 20 5 23 5 Mechanical engineering 36 31 32 33 28 Forestry, woodworking, and pulp 16 20 22 37 8 and paper industries Construction industry 17 22 34 34 25 Light industry 33 23 8 20 21 Food industry 18 24 12 19 16 An increase in demand created a favorable situation for a growth in output. The balance of changes in production increased by 23 points during the month making at present + 34 %. (It is interesting to note that a month ago the balance of forecasts of output made exactly + 34 %). Production has not grown so intensively since March of 2000. Only 15 per cent of enterprises reported diminishing output in March of 2003. Growth was registered across all industries except power engineering.

Table Impact of lower tax rates and abolition of the investment benefits on investment plans of enterprises, in % of the sum of reports Industries Planned amount of investment increased did not change decreased Industry, total 10 71 Power engineering 13 74 Ferrous metallurgy 9 73 Non-ferrous metallurgy 11 45 Chemistry and petrochemistry 14 72 Mechanical engineering 10 77 Forestry, woodworking, and pulp 11 73 and paper industries Construction industry 14 68 Light industry 4 70 Food industry 13 62 Source: IET investment survey (12/02-02/03) Evaluations of finished stocks also indicate that positive trends in industry develop. The share of answers normal increased in March up to 50 %, what is the absolute record for all 130 surveys. Never, since March of 1992, so many enterprises have evaluated their finished stocks as adequate to the actual and expected changes in output, demand, and prices. The balance of assessments (above norm below norm) increased by 7 points over the month, however, it was within the fluctuation band of this indicator observed over the last two years. An increase in excessive finished stocks is related to the adjustment of foreseen demand: in the nearest future enterprises expect a decline in the intensity of sales. The largest excessive stocks were registered in chemistry, petrochemistry, and mechanical engineering.

After the forecasts of demand reached the peak in February, in March this indicator decreased by 5 points, primarily due to the situation in power engineering, where all enterprises expected a decline in cash sales (balance made 4 %). In other industries, there prevailed expectations of a growth in sales, especially in chemistry, petrochemistry, and construction industry. Non-cash types of demand will, as it seems, decline across all industries in the few next months. A growth in barter is possible only in ferrous metallurgy, while the amounts of promissory notes and offsets may increase in metallurgy and construction industry.

Forecasts of changes in output did not change in March. On the whole, industries maintain rather high expectations of growth in production. A decline in production (due to the decrease in demand) in the few next months is planned only in power engineering and light industry. The most intensive growth in production (similarly to demand) is probable in chemistry, petrochemistry, and construction industry.

The plans of changes in prices continue to lose optimism. The balance of reports decreased in March by 3 points, however, it remains positive and highest in the last two years. An absolute decline is possible only in ferrous metallurgy.

S. Tsukhlo Foreign Trade According to the Central Bank of Russia, in January of 2003 the foreign trade turnover made US $ 14.billion. The 35.9 % increase in turnover as compared with the figures registered in January of 2002 may be explained by a considerable growth in amounts of both exports and imports.

-1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 Source: RF Goskomstat Jan. Apr. Jul. Oct. Jan. Apr. Jul. Oct. Jan. Apr. Jul. Oct. Jan. Apr. Jul. Oct. Jan. Apr. Jul. Oct. Jan. Apr. Jul. Oct. Jan.

Balance Export Import Fig. 1. Main indicators of Russias foreign trade (in US bln.) In January of 2003, the amount of export of goods made US $ 9.5 billion, what was by 42 % above the level registered in the respective month of 2002. This significant increase in amounts of exports registered in January of 2003 may be explained both by growing prices and volumes of export. According to IMF .

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estimates, in January of 2003 world prices of staple Russian exports were by 14 % above the level registered in the same month of the preceding year.

In January of 2003, the growth in oil prices continued. In January, the average price of BRENT oil made US $ 31.3 per barrel (an increase by 60.9 % and 13.9 % respectively). The major factors behind the rise in prices were the US preparations for a military action in Iraq and the political crisis in Venezuela.

The average price of URALS oil in January through February made US $ 29.68 per barrel. As a result, the export duty on crude oil exported from the RF territory in countries outside the customs territory of the Customs Union shall be increased from US $ 25.9 to US $ 40.3 per metric ton since April 1, 2003. The export duty on oil products has been increased from US $ 23.3 to US $ 36.3 per metric ton. The new duty rates shall be in effect until June 1, 2003.

Contract prices of Russian natural gas increased by 48.9 % in comparison with the figures registered in January of 2002..

In January of 2003, there were registered no significant changes in prices on the markets of ferrous metals.

Basic export European prices of reinforcing steel, commercial steel, hot, and cold rolled steel remained at the level registered in December of 2002 and made US $ 250 to 310, 270 to 300, 295 to 315 and 265 to 385 per metric ton respectively. However, in comparison with the figures registered in January of 2002 prices increased by 35 % to 48 %, 22 % to 28 %, 55 % to 57 %, 41 % to 46 % respectively.

In January of 2003, the situation on the majority of key markets of non-ferrous metals was characterized by positive price dynamics. The factor behind this development was rather high demand for non-ferrous metals. There shall be noted a persistent growth in nickel prices, which reached a two-year maximum in January making US $ 8595 per metric ton. The average price in January of 2003 exceeded the respective indicator registered in the last year by 25.4 %. The average copper and aluminum prices insignificantly changed in comparison with the indicators observed in the preceding year.

Table The average monthly world prices in January of the respective year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 Oil (Brent), USD / metric ton 137,5 170,2 111,6 82,4 185,7 189,6 141,58 204,Natural gas, USD / thous. m3 - 88,8 74,9 71,3 86,8 260,7 76,7 180,Gasoline, USD / metric ton 142,5 184,5 133,9 176,5 263,8 308,8 204,5 304,Copper, USD / metric ton 2553 2400 1682 1528,2 1887,9 1849,6 1557,8 1571,Aluminum, USD / metric ton 1554 1598 1480 1301,4 1695,5 1641,50 1377,85 1291,Nickel, USD / metric ton 7956 7485 5496 4550,8 8338,1 7091,33 6094,58 7643,Source: calculated in accordance to the data presented by London Metal Exchange (UK), International Oil Exchange (London) The share of countries outside CIS in exports has somewhat increased: from 85 % in January of 2002 to 86 % in the same month of the current year. In the commodity structure of Russian exports to countries outside NIS, the share of fuel and energy resources made 66.3 % in January of 2003 (61.4 % in January of 2002), export of metals and metal articles 14.4 % (16.5 %), products of chemistry 5.6 % (6.1 %), timber and pulp and paper products 4.4 % (5.4 %), products of mechanical engineering 3.7 % (5.6 %).

In January of 2003, the real Ruble / US $ exchange rate exceeded the level registered in the respective month of 2002 by 7 %. Besides, the level of GDP increased by 5.7 % in comparison with the figures observed in January of 2002. A stronger national currency and a growth of incomes in the economy were objective factors behind higher levels of imports. On the other hand, as Euro appreciated in relation to US $, prices of Europe-made goods increased and, accordingly, constrained a growth in the volume of Russian imports.

As a result of impact of these and other factors, in January of 2003 the amount of imported goods increased by 28.6 % in comparison with the level registered in the same month of 2002 and made US $ 4.billion. At the same time the growth in imports from countries outside CIS was somewhat higher than the increase in imports from the CIS member countries. As a result, the share of countries outside NIS in imports grew from 78 % in January of 2002 to 79 % in January of 2003. As concerns the commodity structure of Russian imports from these countries, machinery and equipment made 38.6 %, food and respective raw materials made 24.9 %, and products of chemistry made 17.4 %.

As a result of the outpacing growth in exports, the active balance of trade made US $ 5 billion in January of 2003, what was by 51.5 % above the level registered in January of 2002.

In January of 2003, the amount of Russias trade vis--vis CIS member countries made US $ 2.32 billion.

Imports grew by 18.7 % in comparison with the figures registered in January of 2002 and made US $ 0.billion, while exports increased by 32.6 % and made US $ 1.35 billion.

For instance, due to the favorable business situation on world markets and increasing world output of steel, in January through February of 2003 Russian export of iron ore products grew by 22 % in comparison with the figures registered in the respective period of the preceding year and made 2.57 million metric tons, including 891 thousand metric tons of concentrate, 1.43 million metric tones of pellets, and 171 thousand metric tons of iron containing briquets. At the same time, almost 40 % of the total amount of Russias iron ore were exported to Ukraine (960 million metric tons in January of 2003).

In March, there was held a meeting of representatives of customs services from the member countries of the Eurasian economic community. Among the issues discussed in the course of the meeting were customs control over export and import of alcohol and tobacco products, ethyl alcohol, and customs control in the sphere of transfer of objects of intellectual property.

Besides, there were discussed measures aimed at further formation of the common customs territory, what involved a comparative analysis of draft Customs Codes of three countries Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, and Russia.

In March of 2003, the issue of so called tolling was raised again. Tolling is processing of imported giveand-take raw materials. It means, that raw materials or intermediate products are imported in the country for processing. Finished products are exported by the supplier, while the processor is paid for the use of its capacities. A specific feature of the scheme is that raw materials and finished products are exempted from taxes on condition that all finished products are exported. In Russia it means that firms tollingers do not pay export duty, while the charged amount of VAT is returned after export of finished products.

Last year, tolling accounted for production of 1.85 million metric tons of Russian aluminum, while the total production was at 2.5 million metric tons.

In 2002, a group of deputies of the State Duma Budget and Tax Committee twice attempted to pass an amendment to the Tax Code removing tolling related VAT privileges from Article 164.

In March of 2003, the Governmental commission on protective measures in foreign trade and customs and tariff policy proposed to abolish export 5 % duties on aluminum and aluminum alloys and import duties on aluminum oxide (since January 1, 2004), but instead restrict the use of the customs regime of processing of goods in the customs territory as concerns aluminum industry (also since January 1, 2004). In fact, it means the abolishment of tolling schemes for aluminum industry, although in Russia the majority of printing houses, pharmaceutical plants, tolling is used in textile, atom, pulp and paper, ship building, and some other industries.

Representatives of aluminum industry retain hopes to persuade the Government that the abolishment of tolling will negatively affect the positive development dynamics observed in the industry in the last years.

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