Source: calculated using the data of Goskomstat of RF.
Despite the decrease in world oil prices in the first Quarter this year, the current economic situation is still rather favorable for Russian exporters: the world oil prices steadily exceed USD 20/barrel, while the recent decisions of OPEC on cutting down their volume of output allow to hope for a maintenance of rather favorable external conditions for the development of the national oil and gas sector this year.
Source: calculated on the data of Goskomstat of RF
According to Goskomstat, in January 2001 Russia’s foreign trade turnover made up USD 11.1 bln. vs. 9.7 bln. in January 2000. Such a rise became possible primarily thanks to the growth in export value generated by high world prices for energy sources and metals.
In January 2001, the positive balance of foreign trade operations made up USD 9.0 bln., or at 19.5% more than in January 2000.
Russia’s foreign trade turnover with the non-CIS countries in January this year made up USD 9.0 bln., or 121.3% of its respective index of the prior year.
In the beginning this year, the conditions in the area of foreign trade generally remained favorable to Russia. The average monthly price for Urals in January 2001 was USD 25/barrel vs. 23.9 in December 2000 and 26.8 for the whole 2000 on average. Since early January 2001 the prices for natural gas supplied to Europe were revised: they grew by 7-9% on average compared with December 2000.
Среднемесячные мировые цены в январе соответствующего года
Oil ( brent), USD/t
Natural gas, USD/mln.m3
Source: calculated by the data of the London Metal Exchange and new York Mercantile Exchange
As a result of the current favorable state of affairs in the world market in January 2001, the Russian exports maintained high growth rates. In terms of their value equivalent, the respective index made up USD 8 bln., or at 15.5% more than its analogous index of the prior year, including USD 6.9 bln. – to the non- CIS countries (a 20.2% growth) As concerns the commodity structure of exports to Far-Abroad countries, in January 2001 the proportional weight of fuel and energy goods made up 64% of the whole volume of the Russian exports to these countries, of which the proportion of metals and metal articles accounted for 16%, chemicals- 7%, timber and paper and pulp goods-5%, machine- building goods-4%.
In January 2001 Russian imports showed a 7.5% growth (up to USD 3.1 bln.) vs. the respective period of the prior year, including a 15.8% growth (up to USD 2.1 bln.) in imports from the non-CIS countries. The goods structure of imports from the far-Abroad countries was dominated by machinery and equipment – 34% of the total volume of import, food stuffs and related raw materials for their production-25%, chemicals- 23%.
The substantial rise in imports was determined primarily by the growth in business activity in the country in the conditions of a real strengthening of the Russian currency and the expansion of the domestic effective demand.
In January 2001 Russia’s main trade partners practically were the same as in the prior year: Germany-10.8% of the total trade turnover, Italy-7.9%, Ukraine and Belarus-6.3% each, Poland-4.4%, USA-3.8%, kazakstan-3.5%, Netherlands-3.4%, Japan- 3.1%.
Russia’s trade turnover with the CIS countries in January 2001 made up USD 2.1 bln., with exports accounting for USD 1.1 bln. and imports- 1.0 bln. The indices of January this year proved to be roughly at 7% inferior to the prior year’s level.
Though January is not an illustrative month in terms of determination of trends in the foreign trade area, it may well become possible that by summer one should expect the contraction of trade supplies to Russia from one of its biggest trade partner – Ukraine. That is related to the introduction of a prohibitive 40% customs duty (the 20% duty on big-diameter pipes) on the import of Ukrainian pipes scheduled for May 2001.
Yet in 2000 the RF government undertook a number of adequate measures aimed at protection of national producers’ interests, for it happens very often the CIS countries’ produce is significantly cheaper than its Russian analogues. According to the current bilateral agreements, VAT is paid according to the country of origin principle, while Ukraine provides considerable benefits to its exporters, which automatically makes the Ukrainian roughly at 10% cheaper relative to Russian products. According to the Russian metal producers’ estimates, their monthly losses amount to a. USD 15 mln.
Last autumn Russia announced its intention to introduce anti-dumping sanctions against the import steel pipes from Ukraine, whose proportion in the overall volume of imported pipes accounts for up 80%. During the first two months 2001 the proportion of the Ukrainian pipes in the Russian market reached 20%.
The RF-Ukrainian negotiations on this issue have been held for over six months, however, in vain. In addition, some Russian largest metallurgical plants announced their intent to launch an anti-dumping process against the Ukrainian producers of hot-rolled plates, assortment rolled metal, and reinforcing steel, while some Russian consumers, particularly Gasprom, are interested in the import of cheaper Ukrainian pipes.
The agreements reached last year on the transition to the collection of VAT according to the “country of origin” principle since July 1, 2001, may slightly change the situation in the domestic market for metal products. The importers of pipes will pay extra 20% of the value of their produce to the Russian budget. It is envisaged that the RF Government should consider the problem of regulation of import of Ukrainian pipes within several months, and should the losses be compensated, the prohibitive customs duties may be reduced to 20%.
It should be noted that anti-dumping duties are still an effective method of protecting national markets in the conditions of unification of customs tariffs, and they are not contradictory to the respective WTO provisions.
During last months Russia has reactivated negotiations on its accession to WTO: there were series of official and non- official consultations between the Russian side and members of WTP that resulted in a certain progress on the issue. In early March an international Task Force on Russia’s joining WTO decided “to intensify the process”.
In general the parties concerned have reached a notable progress on the issue: thus, in particular, about 30% of Russian tariffs are close to being agreed upon with the majority of the WTO members, while “common approaches” were noted with respect to another 40% of those, and serious disagreements remain with regard to 30% of tariffs, particularly for machinery and equipment, pharmaceuticals, agricultural goods, furniture, and beer.
The area of trade with agricultural goods forms a very difficult filed for negotiations. Russia’s proposals on support of the agrarian sector are not acknowledged by the members of the Working Group. In the meantime our partners study a document in which Russia proposes to commit itself to the maximal level of export subsidies worth a total of USD 700 mln. annually and to the targeted support to the national agrarian producers totaled USD 16.2 bln. annually (for reference: the current level of support accounts for USD 1-2 bln.). It is envisaged to gradually reduce the limit of that over 6 years upon its joining WTO, nut just by 20%. The ultimate level of the import tariffs (i.e. the maximal level that Russia obliges itself not to exceed) for agricultural goods should be 24-27% (with the current level of 12-14%).
The negotiating parties also considered a new package in the sphere of services. As concerns the banking sector, Russia is ready to raise the proportion of foreign presence from 12 up to 20%, and in the insurance sector – to set that at the level of 15% (providing that non-residents should not deliver life insurance services to Russians), and in the area of mobile telecommunication- 25%. The official negotiations on the services sector should start within the forthcoming future.
The Russian side hopes to hold full-scale negotiations with the US, EU, Canada and Norway until May and to start the development of the protocol on its joining WTO since June.
Russia’s joining WTO should have a great impact on the national economy, methods of management of foreign trade ties, and the nature of the interaction between the country and the world community. The impact, however, will not be ambiguous, for while getting the access to foreign markets, Russia will have to open its own markets, and many industry branches of the Russian economy, such as, for instance, textile and light industry, production of home electric appliances, cars, and food stuffs will find themselves in the conditions of a stronger competition with import goods.
As to the import tariffs system, the Russian delegation intends to proceed from the basic rate of 19% (for reference: the average weighed import tariff rate effective as of January 1, 2001, is 11.4%).
At the same time the Russian exporters and importers will have an access to the unified legal zone, which should help them receive protection from any discriminative measures that annually cost Russia USD 2-4 bln.
Obviously, any detailed calculation of the effect of Russia’s joining WTO appears impossible, but Russia evidently cannot stay outside this leading international organization in the field of regulation of the world trade.
N. Volovik, N. Leonova
Public property management reform: some general challenges and possible innovations in 2001.
The general strategy of public property management over the forthcoming years involves concrete decisions to be made on all the national enterprises both partially or fully owned by the state: their transformation in a public enterprise, or in a joint- stock company (JSC) with the 100% government stake, or their assignment under the ownership of a Subject of RF (following the off-set procedures or gratis).
The implementation of the above necessitates a large-scale inventory, which in a broader sense implies both the inventory of assets and the monitoring of managers’ operations. It was yet in the early ‘90s when the need in creation of a single state property register manifested itself. In July 1998 the government took some decisions in this area (requirement to public enterprises, organizations and JSC with the government share that use public property to submit some douments to the Committee for Public Property Management (KUGI, currently- the Ministry (MGI), however, no sanctions were provided for the failure to submit those.
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