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The US Government has decided to reschedule the development of its new super bomber and construct it 20 years earlier than initially planned (from 2037 to 2018). It has been done not because this super bomber is needed as such. The USA has in service 193 B 52G planes and, additionally, 102 B 52H, 92 B 1, as well as (by estimation) 132 invisible B 2 bombers. A comparison of these numbers with the number of strategic bombers Tu 160 and Tu 95 in service in the Russian Federation as shown in Figure 1 demonstrates that the USA has the absolute superiority in this regard. The same situation exists as concerns the comparison between the USA and any other state or even all the states of the world at once. The Americans have speeded up the development of the new bomber because the state (!) needs to lay the R & D groundwork for a future new passenger plane. When commenting on these developments, L. Safronov, a former Deputy Minister of Industry, Science, and Technology of the Russian Federation, reminded of similar successful policies pursued in the USSR (for instance, the construction of the civil Tu 104 on the base of Tu 95) and noted the following: Unfortunately, representatives of the RF Defense Ministry, at least until recently, had failed to reconcile the military and civil aviation issues. No coordination of the plans of development of civil and military aviation programs have been developed since the collapse of the USSR. However, it should be noted that once the Military and Industrial Commission under the USSR Council of Ministers had developed and controlled the implementation of exactly such programs, and the respective outcomes were quite successful. Summing up, there may be said the following: although the prospects of the development of piloted military aviation have been outlined, there is small hope that domestic companies would be able to make large orders of military FV. Therefore, the most important task of the moment is to reduce the costs of the development, production, and use of such flying vehicles. In order to facilitate this, all FV should be unified and there should be achieved the highest levels of service performance of such aircraft. If it is taken into account that the required at the moment volumes of production of civil aircraft are the same (in reality, even bigger) as those of military FV, whereas the hopes for purchases of civil aircraft are more real than with respect to the military FV, only this avenue of development seems at the moment to be the most efficient one. It seems that the Military and Industrial Commission recreated in the Russian Federation this March should focus its efforts on the coping with this task. However, no such effort has been in evidence as yet.

E. D. Mikhailova, V. I. Tsymbal.

A. Antipov. K armii 21 veka (Towards a 21st century army). KZ No. 30 of February 21, 2006.

Foreign Trade As before, the state of affairs on the world market exerts a favorable influence on the development of the Russian foreign trade. While in comparison with December of 2005, January of 2006 showed usual (for the first month of the year) decline in the basic macroeconomic indicators, their growth rates in comparison with the respective indicators of the prior year remain at a very high level. In January of the current year, both the values of imports and exports considerably exceeded the respective figures of the past 15 years.

In January of 2006, the Russias foreign trade turnover, calculated according to the balance of payment methodology, made US $ 29.6 billion, increasing in comparison with the first month of 2005 by 35.2 per cent.

As before, the basis of goods turnover was formed by exports to the countries outside CIS, which in comparison with January of 2005 increased by 39 per cent and made US $ 18.3 billion. The rates of growth of exports to CIS countries were also very high 44.9 per cent, and in the value volume reached US $ 2.6 billion. Overall, in January of 2005, the Russias exports made US $ 20.9 billion, which is by 39.7 per cent greater than in January of 2005, and by 15 per cent less than in December of 2005.

2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 Balance Export Import Source: Central Bank of the RF Figure. Major Indices of the Russian Foreign Trade (USD bn) As before, the high rates of growth of Russias exports are caused by favorable state of affairs on the world market. According to estimates of the Bank of Russia, the world prices with account of the structure of Russias exports as aggregated by goods, including roughly 70 per cent of its cost, in January of 2006, compared with the prior month increased by 7.4 per cent, while in comparison with January of 2005 by 36 per cent.

In January of 2006, the prices on the world oil market were mostly increasing. The basic factors that maintained the price rise were concerns about decreasing of oil deliveries to the world market by Iran, as well as the forecast of the International Energy Agency on considerable growth of oil consumption in the 2d quarter of the current year. The price rise was boosted by 10 per cent decrease in oil production in Nigeria, caused by numerous terrorist attacks focused on the oil infrastructure of this country.

In January of 2006, in comparison with the prior month the average oil price of Brent, Dubaiskaya and Zapadnotekhasskaya went up by 10.7 per cent up to US $ 62.5 per barrel, the Urals oil Jul Jul Jul Jul Jul Jul Okt Okt Okt Okt Okt Okt Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Jan Apr Apr Apr Apr Apr Apr price went up by 9.8 per cent up to US $ 59.1 per barrel. In January of 2006, as compared to January of 2005 the oil prices were higher on average by 45.6 and 46.8 per cent, respectfully.

Because of the rise of world prices, the Russian oil export duty rate will become since April 1, a record high and will make US $ 186.4 per metric ton. The prior record was US $ 179.6 per metric ton, such duty was effective since December 1, 2005 to January 31, 2006. Since February 1, the duty was reduced to US $ 160.8 per metric ton. For a period of monitoring since January 1 to February the average Urals oil price was at US $ 58.13439 per barrel, which is equivalent of the duty at US $ 186.4 per metric ton.

In January of 2006, vs. the prior month the prices for oil products increased on average by 10.4 per cent (diesel fuel - by 7.2 per cent, fuel oil - by 14.2 per cent, and gasoline - by 12.4 per cent); in comparison with January of 2005 the prices for oil products were higher on average by 52.4 per cent (gasoline - by 43.2 per cent, diesel fuel - by 36.3 per cent, and for fuel oil by 82 per cent).

Since March 7, 2006, Resolution #51 of the Government of February 2006 came into force, which sets duty rates for light oil products at US $ 120.7 per metric ton, and at US $ 65 per metric ton - for dark oil products. Theretofore, the export duties for oil products exported from the territory of the RF beyond the states participants of agreements on the Customs Union, made up for light oil products US $ 133.5 per metric ton. while for dark ones - US $ 71.9 per metric ton.

In January of 2006, vs. the prior month the prices of natural gas in Europe increased by 6.3 per cent, in the U.S. the prices decreased by 32.5 per cent in comparison with January of 2005, natural gas in Europe increased by 45.8 per cent, in the U.S. by 40.8 per cent.

In January of 2006, the world prices for products of the fuel and energy complex vs. the prior month went up on average by 9 per cent, in comparison with January of 2005 they were higher by 44.8 per cent.

In January of 2006, the prices for aluminum, copper and nickel continued to be rising under the influence of high industrial demand for these metals on the world market, including on the part of China, as well as the increase of demand on the part of international investment funds. In January of 2006, vs. the prior month aluminum increased by 5.8 per cent, copper - by 3.4 per cent, nickel - by 8.4 per cent; in comparison with January of 2005 the prices for non-ferrous metals were on higher average by 19 per cent (copper by 49.4 per cent, aluminum - 29.5 per cent, nickel price remained almost unchanged).

Table 1.

The average monthly world prices in December of the respective year 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 Oil (Brent), USD/ barrel 17.3 23.4 15.3 11.3 25.5 26.0 19.4 28.1 31.34 42.9 62.Natural gas, 6.90 9.USD/1 mln BTU - 2.486 2.097 1.426 2.431 5.214 2.146 5.048 6.156 7 Gasoline, 1.29 1.USD/gallon 0.539 0.685 0.507 0.494 0.739 0.865 0.573 0.852 0.992 1 Copper, 1528. 1887. 1849. 1557. 1571 2441 USD / metric ton 2553 2400 1682 2 9 6 8.3.9.0 Aluminum, 1301. 1695. 1641. 1377. 1291. 1608. 1832.

USD / metric ton 1554 1598 1480 4 5 5 9 1 2 0 Nickel, 4550. 8338. 7091. 6094. 7643. 1485 1450 USD / metric ton 7956 7485 5496 8 1 3 6 9 5.0 5.0 Source: calculated in accordance with the data presented by London Metal Exchange (UK), International Oil Exchange (London) The amount of Russias oil exports for the first month of 2006 made 17.217 million tons, which is by 8 per cent greater than in the respective period of the prior year. The crude oil exports to countries outside CIS increased in January by 14.5 per cent (from 14.3 to 16.4 million tons). The suppliers earnings made US $ 6.47 billion (increase by 81 per cent) vs. US $ 3.57 billion in the prior year.

The crude oil exports to CIS countries decreased almost twice, up to 825 thous. tons in comparison with 1.625 million tons in the prior year. In money terms exports to CIS countries decreased by 18 per cent, amounting US $ 247 million in comparison with US $ 301 million in January 2005.

For the first month of the year the oil products exports increased by 22 per cent (7.04 million tons), in comparison with 5.78 million tons in the prior year. In money terms the exports grew by 74.3 per cent and reached US $ 2.72 billion. Of this volume as much as 6.73 million tons (US $ 2.59 billion) were exported to countries outside CIS vs. 5.49 million tons (US $ 1.46 billion) for the respective period of the prior year.

The Russias gas exports in January of 2006 increased (in comparison with the same period of the prior year) by 5 per cent - up to 18.7 billion cubic meters (bcm). The earnings from the gas exports for a month increased by 63 per cent and made US $ 4.221 billion. More specifically, in January, the gas exports from Russia to countries outside CIS grew by 6 per cent - up to 16 bcm, to CIS countries remained at the level of January of 2005 (2.7 bcm).

Overall, in January of 2006, the share of fuel and energy products in the commodity composition of exports to countries outside CIS made 73 per cent of the total volume of export to these countries (in January of 2005 64.3 per cent). Growth of the volume of export of metals and.their items made 11.per cent (versus 19 per cent in January of 2005), chemical industry products 5.4 per cent (6 per cent), plant and equipment 3.7 per cent (2.9 per cent), timber and pulp and paper items 2.8 per cent (3.per cent).

In January of 2006, the share of fuel and energy products in the commodity composition of exports to CIS countries made 57.1 per cent of the total volume of export to these countries (in January of 2005 52.8 per cent), metals and their items 9.7 per cent (10.5 per cent), plant and equipment 13.per cent (14.3 per cent).

In comparison with January of 2005 Russias imports for January of 2006 grew by 25.6 per cent - up to US $ 8.7 billion. The continued growth of commodity imports was determined by expansion of the domestic demand (to the respective period of 2005), under the considerable real rubles strengthening. According to the RF Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, in January, the real RUR/USD strengthening made 3.6 per cent, to EUR 2 per cent, the real effective exchange rate 2.15 per cent.

The share of plant and equipment in the commodity composition of imports from the countries outside CIS made 47.6 per cent (in January of 2005 44.4 per cent), chemical industry products 18.per cent (17.4 per cent), food stuffs and materials for their production 15.6 per cent (19.2 per cent), textile products and shoes 4.2 per cent (3.5 per cent).

The growth of imports from the countries outside CIS was observed by all the enlarged commodity assortment items. Thus, imports of machine-building products increased by 38.6 per cent and made US $ 2267.1 million, chemical products by 38.0 per cent (US $ 884.6 million), food stuffs and materials for their production by 5.3 per cent (US $ 742.8 million), textile products and shoes by 53.per cent (US $ 200.8 million).

The balance of foreign trade in January of 2006 was positive and made US $ 12.2 billion vs. US $ billion in January of 2005.

On March 27, 2006, the next round of negotiations was completed in Geneva on Russias accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). At that session the Russian delegation planned to agree sections of the working group report on the trade policy of Russia that determined the terms of Russias WTO accession. However, only three of them were approved. Totally, only 19 sections of 48 had been approved. In particular, no progress was reached as far as the customs section was concerned.

Special multilateral consultations on the customs regime are planned for the second half of April.

Russia had already completed bilateral negotiations with 55 from 58 countries that form the working group for Russias WTO accession. Now the negotiation process is under way with the U.S., Australia and Columbia. With Australia Russia is close to signing the final protocol only one technical issue is to be solved. The same is true for Columbia, only one outstanding issue is on the agenda the more profitable terms on sugar imports. Russia could not as yet agree with the U.S., which are insisting on opening of the western banks subsidiaries in Russia.

However, new problems arose for Russia by the end of March: those countries with which the question was already solved began actually to recall their agreements.

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