During 1996, the Russian State CustomsCommittee granted to the subjects of the foreign economic activities, includingin the agrarian sphere, “in the exceptional cases” the deferrals for thecustoms payments and other privileges, under the pressure of certaindepartments or groups. The deferrals (or spreads) for the customs payments weregranted for three months and, frequently, repeated. In practice, they wereindirect privileges after the ban by the Government, in 1995, of the directforeign trade privileges. In certain events, large importers delayed theirpayments for twelve and more months. The regular bans by the Government of thecustoms privileges is rather of fiscal character than regulation of the foreigneconomic activities; it is one of the methods of procurement to the income sideof the Federal Budget. As this tactical task has been completed, one maysuppose that the privileges for the foreign economic activity subjects mayoccur again, in another form.
From 1 July 1996, the deferrals and spreadsfor the food VAT and excise taxes payments were banned. It should be noted thatthe manipulations with the VAT rates was an efficient enough method of thegoods flows control. Thus, in 1995, due to the introduction, in April 1995, ofthe 20% VAT on the raw sugar and the 10% VAT on the white sugar, the import ofthe latter began growing. As a result, 1,798,000 mt of the white sugar andalmost 1,000,000 mt of the raw sugar were imported to Russia. The mass importof the white sugar came, first of all, from Ukraine, due to the absence of thecustom duties within the CIS and the preferential tariff treatment in Ukrainefor the raw sugar import for the Ukrainian processing industry. The Ukrainianimporters pay only for the custom expenses (0.15% of the contract cost); thiswas one the reasons why the 1994-95 transfer price for the sugar in theUkrainian enterprises was by 15% to 20% lower than in the Russian ones. Thisconditioned the advantage of the Ukrainian sugar in the Russian import of 1995.In November 1995, the VAT rate for the raw sugar was reduced to10%.
In the short term, a reduction of the goodsturnover between Russia and Ukraine is possible, as Russia has taken somelimiting measures in reaction to the ban by Ukraine of the VAT on the goodsexported to the CIS. In particular, from 1 September 1996, the goods importedto Russia from the customs territory of Ukraine will be imposed with the VAT inaccordance with the order effective for third countries.
Share of import in per capitaconsumption. The trend to the growth of the importshare in the average per capita consumption of the basic foods remained due tothe drop of the domestic production (see Table 2.25).
Share of net import on per capitaconsumption of the main foods, %.
* import without FSU.
Source: Customs Statistics of RussianFederation Foreign Trade. RF Customs Committee. 1994, 1995. Russian RuralEconomy. Russian Goscomstat. Moscow, 1995. Foreign Economic Links in 1991. CISCommittee for statistics. 1992.
At the first sight, one of the main trendsof the reforms period was the growth of consumption of the imported food. AsTable 2.30 shows, the share of the meat products in the average per capitaconsumption saw large fluctuations, though it always remained high. The lowindexes of the crisis 1992 were results of the important supplies of theseproducts within the humanitarian aid framework, not reflected in the officialstatistics of the period, and the mass slaughter of cattle by the producers inthat period. However, it should be take into account that before the reformsmost meat products came to Russia from the FSU (mainly, Ukraine), within theframework of the centralized inter-republic supplies.
The reduction of the potatoes import (Cuba,Poland) is representative enough: Russia has already reached the self-supportfor this produce. Already in 1993, the potatoes import reduced more than5‑fold, compared with1992. As of today (1996) the import of the potatoes (0.02% of the grossproduction) is formed by the precocious potatoes, consumed in largecities.
During the pre-reform period, the foodimport was, in a great extent, inefficient, oriented to the feedstock import tosupport both the domestic rural economy, in particular, animals breeding,suffering the shortage of the fodder, and the processing industry. This factsees its best elucidation in the comparative analysis of the grain and meatimport. As it has been noted above, in the conditions of liberalization of theforeign trade, the low efficiency centralized import of the fodder grain wassubstituted by the import of the end produce, i.e., meat. Moreover, the growthof the animal produce import in 1994-96 results from the today’s situation of the animals breedingin Russia with the high costs.
The domestic animals breeding ischaracterized by the extremely low conversion of fodder. The averageconsumptions of fodder in grain units per kilogram of gain in weight of theanimals alive are the following: 10.625 kg for cattle; 6.5 kg for swine; and3.99 kg for poultry (broilers). The largest share of the grain import was thefodder grain import (barley, corn, fodder wheat). In the import of wheat, thefodder wheat counted from 40% to 60% in certain years.
The domestic production of the meat importedtoday would have required to import about 12 mn mt of fodder grain in 1994 and16 mn mt of fodder grain in 1996. Combined with the remaining grain import thiswould have resulted in the 15 and 17 mn mt, respectively. In the other words,the aggregate import of the meat, meat derivatives, and grain, counted in thetoday’s grainequivalent, is lower than the Russian fodder grain import of the Soviets time.During that period, the import of the grain was 19,800 mt in 1990; 20,200 mt in1991; and 28,900 mt in 1992.
Evolution of foreign economic relations byregional groups of countries. After the substantialdecrease of the food turnover between Russia and CIS which began in 1992, from1994, its volumes have been increasing; in 1996, they grew 2‑fold, compared with19954. The main goods range of the Russian food export and import forthe CIS countries has not sustained radical changes. In the export to the CIScountries, a significant share (30% to 50%) belongs to the meat and itsderivatives, food industry products, sugar, grain, etc.; the consumers are,mainly, the Central Asia and Armenia where their own production isinsufficient. Besides, the Central Asia states see complications in thesupplies of the potatoes; hence, they may become large enough sale markets forRussia which has already (see above) reached the self-support for thiscrop.
Russia remains the main importer from theCIS of many kinds of food, especially fruits and vegetables. The import of thevegetable oil, butter, meat, and other products remains important, aswell.
In the food import of Russia the mainvolumes belong to Ukraine: almost half of the food in 1996, including almost50% of the meat supplies. The links with the other CIS countries (Georgia,Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldavia) are not so important; they import, mainly,fruits, vegetables, and wine; however, the volumes are much lesser than beforethe reforms. Russia exports to these countries the products of the processingindustry (sugar, macaroni, canned food, etc.). The import from the Central Asiaconsists, mainly, of the fresh fruits and precocious vegetables, supplied, dueto the short distances, mainly, to the Asian part of Russia. In the structureof the import from Kazakhstan, the leading positions belong to the grain andmeat.
The prices for the products imported fromthe CIS are, as a rule, lower than the domestic ones; hence, theircompetitiveness against the similar Russian produce.
The customs statistics gives almost no dataon the Russian export to the Eastern Europe (except ethyl alcohol). In general,Russia has the negative balance in the food trade with these countries. Thefood import from the Eastern Europe has decreased significantly. However, in1995-96 its growth was observed, in particular, for the import of fruits andvegetables (especially from Hungary and Bulgaria), though the share of thesecountries in the Russian import of these produces is significantly lower thanbefore the reforms; it amounts to 14% to 24% against the pre-reforms 80% to90%.
The Russian supplies of food to thedeveloped countries are oriented, mainly, to the traditional Russian exports,well known in the world market (caviar, alcohol, fish, sunflower seeds, rye).The cost of the import from the developed countries is growing, though not sofast as in the first years of the reforms.
Hence, the structural changes of the Russianfood import of the period of reforms, i.e., replacement of the agriculturalfeedstock import by the processed products import are, today, economicallyvalid; they directly result from the low efficiency of not only the ruraleconomy, but also processing and food industries. At the same time, thetoday’s situation ofthe rural economy does not show that it may adequately react on any limitationmeasures in the food trade field.
Structure of Russian trade with main worldcountries in 1994-96
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