At the same time, the Decree tried again toinsist on the continuing governmental policy in privatization of the processingindustry: the credits prolongations were also given to the processingenterprises, at the condition 51% of their shares of stock were owned by ruralproducers. Nevertheless, this did not become a serious motivation for theprocessors as for the secondary issue recommended in 1995.
Foreign trade in agricultural produce andfood
Main trends in food trade of1996. According to the customs statistics, the shareof the Russian food import in the whole import cost was 25.5% for the first9 months of 1996; the relevant values for 1995 and 1994 were 27.3% and 28.4%,respectively. In the first 9 months of 1996, the share of the food export was1.8%; the relevant values for 1995 and 1994 were 1.6% and 2.1%, respectively.Hence, in the cost structure of the import, the specific share of theagricultural feedstock and food was decreasing. At the same time, the rates ofthe food import growth were lower than for the whole import; moreover, in 1996,the volume of the food import even diminished, compared with 1995 (seeTable 2.21).
The grain and vegetable oil, whose exportconditions worsened, in 1996, compared with the preceding years, due to therecession of the domestic production, remained, yet, the most important in theexport structure.
In 1996, no important shifts in the goodsstructure of the food import were observed. The growth of the end productsimport with the decrease of the feedstock import remained (see Table 2.23). Theimport of meat products, first of all, poultry meat, continued growing. Thegrain import grew due to the poor harvest of 1995. At the same time, the stabletrend to the growth of the flour import combined with the 6 to 7‑fold reduction of the pre-reformimport of grain shows that today the growth of the end products import resultsfrom the low competitiveness of the domestic processing industry and its highcosts.
Balances of foreign trade in 1994-96 (1stto 3rd quarters), US$ mn
At the same time, the high growth rates ofthe basic goods import are significantly decreasing; this may witnessindirectly the relative saturation of the domestic food market. In thestructure of the imported products, they are differentiated by assortment andcost parameters. The rates of the raw sugar import have grown due to thereduction, at the end of 1995, of the VAT on this product from 20% to 10%. Thegrowth of the tropical produce import is slowing down due to the Rublestabilization, though their per capita consumption is growing, e.g., from 90 kgin 1995 to 95 kg in 1996 for the citruses.
Changes in the system of governmentalcontrol over the foreign economic activities in 1996.The export conditions in the AIC are gradually becoming more liberal, showingless characteristics of the deficit economy. In particular, in April 1996, theregistration of the export contracts and the mineral fertilizers export quotaswere abolished. At the same time, certain attempts of protectionism measureswere seen; they were aimed at limiting the food import.
In 1996, the import of the basic food grewcombined with the stable decrease of the domestic production; these led to anextreme anxiety of both the local and Federal administrations. However, theadministrative limiting measures had no real effect. The example is thewell-known conflict of February 1996 with the chicken legs from the USA: thiswas an attempt to put obstacles on the way of import to protect the domesticproducers by increasing the import duties from 25% to 35%. The formal reasonwas the inconsistency of the produce with the effective Russian standards. As aresult, the claims to the quality of the US produce were satisfied, and theimport duty on it was reduced to 30%.
There was also another new dash in theforeign trade control system, namely, the attempt to impose quotas on theimport, in particular, of the alcohol (from January 1997); the main problem isthe confirmation of the produce authenticity and the legality of its import(though this measure was abolished under the insistence of the WTO and nevertook force); it also related to the white sugar (the draft enactment as for thequotas on the import of this produce was submitted to the Government inNovember 1996). It is supposed to limit the import of the white sugar to theannual 1.5 mn mt, of which 1.15 mn mt is to be supplied fromUkraine.
As of today, the custom duties are used as afiscal mean; hence, the frequent enough conjunctural changes. In such a way,the duties cannot serve stable milestones for the foreign economic activitiessubjects. Moreover, the Russian import duties are not, yet, as differentiatedas in the developed countries, though certain progress is obvious. The maximalimport tariff (since 1996) is 30% of the customs cost of goods, except for thedelicacies, tobaccos, and alcohols. The minimal rate was increased to 5%(against 1%), in particular, for grain bread, juices, and citruses.
According to the State Customs Committee, afurther increase of the customs duties seems impossible, because the Governmenthas already used all the reserves for this due to the future (though in farfuture) entrance of Russia in the WTO. In this connection, Russia has obligedto conserve the mean weighted rate of the import tariff fixed from July 1995 atthe level 13% and at the condition of its gradual decrease by at least 20% to1998 and by 30% to 2000. According to the customs tariff conception, themaximal rate must be reduced from the 30% of 1996 to the 20% in 1998 and to the15% in 2000. Instead, the excise duties will be introduced.
Certain privileges for foreign companieshave been envisioned, as well. E.g., the pastry and animal fodder imported byMars will bear the duties 2‑fold lower than the basic level, as the company has invested overUS$ 100 mn in the Russian economy.
Dynamics of import rates for main kinds offood, %.
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