As a result of excessive prices for sugarquotas at the 2000 tender, the market position of its winners was worse thanthat of importers buying sugar in excess of quotas. The government extendedsugar import regulation and introduced seasonal 45% (but not less than 0.16 EURper kilogram) import duties on white sugar beginning from July 2001 till theend of the year and seasonal 40% (but not less than 0.12 EUR per kilogram)import duties on raw sugar beginning from November till the end of the year. In2002 the tariff regulation of white and raw sugar imports is going to becomemore rigid. Despite the failure of sugar quota tender sale in the previousyear, in 2002 such a tender will be held again. The customs duties on importingboth white and raw sugar are set at 40% (but not less than 0.12 EUR). Seasonalduties will also be raised - to 50% (but not less than 0.15 EUR).
Import duties on rice were also elevatedfrom 5% to 10%. Rice does not play an important role neither in the structureof domestic grain production, nor in the food ration of Russian consumers, norin agriculture’sreturns in the major producing region (Krasnodar kray). Respectively,protection against its import is not prioritized.
In 2001 the Customs tariff law was slightlyamended in order to simplify collection of customs duties by unifying(reducing) their rates on narrow sub-items. Of all the agrifood products theseinnovations will be applied only to fruits. Import duties on sunflower, soybeanand rape oil will be, on the contrary, elevated. Only the specific component ofnew import duty on the above oils will grow - from 0.09 EUR per kilogram to0.14 EUR per kilogram for packed oil and to 0.10 EUR per kilogram forunpacked.
In December non-tariff restrictions wereintroduced on import of ruminants, their embryos, bone beef, mutton,sub-products and other raw products from ruminants originating from Austria andFinland due to phytosanitarian problems.
The regulation of agrifood export remainedrigid. In order to secure raw inputs supply to domestic fat and oil industrygiven their shorter home output, in April 2001 export duties on sunflower seedswere doubled (from 10% but not less than 15 EUR per ton to 20% but not lessthan 30 EUR per ton) and those on soybeans and rapeseeds - raised to 20% butnot less than 35 EUR per ton. This decision can hardly be called economicallyreasonable. At the end of 2000 the price for sunflower seeds on the Russianmarket started to noticeably grow. The basic factors thereof were the rise ofworld prices for this crop and the seasonal shortening of domestic stocksentailing shorter exports. In the first half of 2001 sunflower oil stocks onthe domestic market were 34% over the corresponding level of 2000. In view ofthe above stronger export restrictions seem unjustified.
In 2002 the list of agrifood productssubject of export taxation will include mustard seeds: its exporters will haveto pay 10% (but not less than 25 EUR per ton) customs duty.
Short-term outlook foragrifood sector development
The situation in Russian agrifood sector inthe coming years will be shaped by two opposite trends.
Agrifood sector’s performance in 2001 is stillgood, but already the next year will be much harder. First, given the currenttrends the effect of import substitution will be completely exhausted and itwill become clear what Russian products have real comparative advantages on theworld market. Second, the initiated restructuring of debts will induce a waveof bankruptcies in agriculture. The clearing of the sector of inefficientproducers will eventually bring positive results. But at the initial stage itwill rather entail production drop. Besides, the lack of more or less soundrural development policies is likely to increase social tension in regionswhere many agricultural producers go bankrupt.
At the same time good sector’s performance in 2001 laid acertain basis for improving the situation in 2002. Larger areas were planted inwinter crops that given favourable weather can result in bigger next crop.Better financial performance of agricultural producers enabled them to improvetheir technical level. The restructuring of agriculture’s debts may lead to furtherdeepening of banks’involvement in financing the sector and to a wider spread of financialleasing.
The balance between these two trends willbe determined by external factors: weather conditions, macroeconomic indicators(first of all, the growth of real disposable incomes of population), situationon the world markets of raw materials, etc.
The structure of agricultural productionwill shift to large holdings while household farming will gradually become lessimportant as macroeconomic situation improves. The progress of verticalintegration will imply capital inflow in the agrifood sector although in thenear future nominal investments in the primary production won’t be large.
Despite the active negotiations onRussia’s acceptanceto WTO, the agrarian protectionism will strengthen. Due to errors in marketregulation additional corrective practices will be introduced rather thaninefficient ones will be discontinued. For example, since the RF Ministry ofAgriculture started the meat production development program and buys meatbreeding animals abroad, one can expect higher import duties on all meat itemsin the coming years. The non-efficient sugar market regulation will becontinued. Thus, Russia can get into “a vicious circle ofprotectionism”.
2.5. The sphere of scienceand technology
The past year can be characterized asdemonstrating every sign of stabilization in the sphere of science andtechnology. During that year certain minor changes took place in the managementand structure of the government executive bodies responsible for thedevelopment of the activity in science and technology. A new person wasassigned to the post of the Minister of Industry, Science and Technologies, aswell as the Council on Science and High Technologies was set up under thePresident of the RF to ensure prompt discussion of the problems in the sphereof science with the President of the country.
The replacement of the former Ministerresulted in a change of some of the priorities. Firstly, the support of theinnovation activity will, most probably, become stronger. Secondly, thereexists a high probability that an auditing of the State Scientific Centers(SSCs) will be carried out and the creation of the Federal Centers for Scienceand High Technologies (FCSHT) will be speeded up. Finally, there has almostbeen put a stop to the initiative which was one of the priorities for theformer Minister - that of “codification of knowledge”.
At the present time in the country thereare 58 functioning SSCs, and during the past year they underwent a routinecertification. Initially the SSCs had been created for the purpose ofpreserving the most important research structures and directions for research,and this status, as a rule, was granted to institutes with unique andlarge-scale experimental base. By now it has become clear that this status hasbecome somewhat obsolete because there is no more any vital need for urgentsalvation of scientific centers. However to acieve a well-grounded decisionconcerning the future of the SSCs it is necessary not only to analyze theirscientific results (which is done regularly) but also to evaluate the economiceffectiveness of their activity. There exists a generalized estimate made bythe Ministry of Industry, Science and Technologies according to which to everyrouble from the budget the SSCs earn additional 7 roubles. This is an evidencethat the SSCs are existing and developing mostly due to their inner resourceswhere not the least role is played by sub-leasing their premises.
The SSCs can be replaced by new structures,and there are several possible schemes for their transformation, one of whichis to create such centers on the base of the FCSHTs involving a more in-depthintegration of science, education and industry. The FCSHTs are replicasof MSTCs only acting in a new legislative environment and on the basis of anew, revised list of priorities in the sphere of science and technology.The status of a federal center means a corporate-type conglomerate of highereducational establishments, research institutes, industrial entities and designbureaus oriented at developing and distributing new technologies in differentbranches of science. In fact they are corporations engaged in research andindustrial production, the foundation of the industrial sector. After atwo-year-long discussion of the FCSHT concept, in November 2001 one such centerwas finally established on the basis of the All-Russian Center for Science andResearch on the problems of civil defense and extraordinary situations of theMES of the RF. Though the first FCSHT has come into being, there arestill quite a few problems yet unsolved. Thus, there is no definition of thelegal term “federal center”, and the notion is not quite compatible with theprovisions of the Civil Code. The FCSHTs have not received any state guaranteesfor their activity though their status entitles them to receive additionalbudget financing (similar to the programs of SSCs). Finally, the FCSHTs so farhave not been coordinated with state orders in the sphere of science andlarge-scale development projects in science, technology and industry.
The striving to economize as far as thestate funding is concerned has not always been well-grounded which in somecases resulted in curtailing certain studies that are considered to be ofprimary importance in the rest of the world. Thus, while revising the contentand the mechanisms of selecting and financing for the federal targetedprograms, cuts were made on a number of important directions for research,including the program “Human Genome”. Besides, from now on there is going to beonly one grant recipient on each of the themes (while the themes have beenmerged to a considerable degree). At the same time it has not yet beenspecified in detail who and in which manner is going to conduct an expertiseand on the basis of which criteria. The new approach in fact encouragesmonopolism in science and is especially severe toward the regional centers ofscience. Today only a tiny part of the whole government budget on science (ascompared to the base funding level) is being spent on the programs, andeconomizing could have been done by changing the ratio between basic andcompetition-based funding. However in practice the structure of funding wasstill being shifted toward further increase in the relative share of the costsof maintaining the network of research organizations and administrativestructures while the share of competition-based funding was being continuallyreduced and the allocations for the government research funds were being keptat a constant level.
The institutional changes in 2001 werenegligible and were primarily concerned with science in the academic andeducational spheres. On the whole, the number of organizations in the sphere ofscience and technology grew 0.7% and, according to preliminary estimates,reached 4176. The growth rate was approximately twice as low as in thepreceding year. The highest growth rate was seen as regards researchinstitutes, including those in the system of the RAS. At the same time, theresearch entities that had been found inefficient continued to operate.
The focus of attention, almost throughoutthe whole year, was placed on the RAS - and not only because that was the yearwhen its President and Presidium were reelected. The RAS has preserved most of the featurescharacteristic of its predecessor, the Soviet Academy of Sciences and hasbecome poorly adjusted to the framework both of the existing legislation and ofthe altered economicreality, and this has triggered a discussion on the necessity of itsinstitutional reformation.
During the year 2001 the Academy was tryingto demonstrate that its function is to be not only the country’s main expert on science mattersbut also the main coordinator of the development of interaction with branchsciences and the promotion of the innovation activity, the integration ofscience and education, attracting the young into the sphere of science, andsome other initiatives. Some of these measures revealed the crisis of authoritywithin the RAS rather than contributed to its consolidation. Thus, in May 2001an event took place that which stirred a strong negative response on the partof the academic community and foreign academic and charitable organizations.The Presidium of the RAS approved the Decree (Order) “On the Plan of theMeasures to Be Taken by the RAS in Order to Prevent Inflicting Damage on theRussian Federation” which soon was replaced by another document - theresolution of the Presidium of the RAS No 175 of June 19, 2001 “On Improvingthe Activity of the Research Institutions of the RAS in the Area ofInternational Cooperation in Science and Technology and Protection ofIntellectual Property” wherein the original stipulations if the firstresolution were to a considerable degree softened and shortened. The essence ofthe initial action can be boiled down to the following: scientists were to beobliged to submit to the directors of the institutes full information abouttheir international contracts and grants, to provide the information aboutfuture applications and submit their copies, to report on allforeignners’ visitsto laboratories, to submit reports on the results of research-oriented visitsabroad, and, finally, to submit to the institutes’ administration copies of allarticles to be published abroad.
In response to indignant comments the RASoffered some explanations as to the purpose of the resolution in question andalso that it was to be applied only to the works involving the development andapplication of dual-purpose technologies. It is true that this practice asregards the works in question is acceptable all over the globe; however itapplies to specialized national laboratories, not to universities which arecounterparts of our academic institutions. Besides, the initial document wasformulated in such a way that it was difficult to guess that its application islimited only to dual-purpose technologies. Today, after a new resolution hasbeen approved, the question seems to have been settled.
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