Russia and the international economy
Russia and the international economy
1. Russia within the International Trade System ……………………………3
2. Regulation of External Economic Activities………………………………..4
3. Foreign Trade Pattern……………………………………………………….6
1. Russia and the international trade system
According to a medium-term forecast for developments in the area of
the international economy, business revival is cumulating momentum after
the recession it experienced in early 1990s. It had a relevant effect on
the world trade. In 1994 the average international trade turnover showed a
9.5 percent growth being a record figure in the last 20 years and by 3
times exceeding the increase in the international production. In 1995 the
World Trade Organization estimated 8 percent increase in trade turnover as
compared with a 3 percent growth in the world production. World Bank
experts think that in the next 10 years an average increase in foreign
trade will make 6 percent annually.
An economic run-up in most industrialized countries was followed by a
growing demand for many products and a consecutive price hike on
Oil markets showed a balance of demand and supply in 1995. Average
prices of Dubai oil were at $ 123 per metric ton, by 14.9 percent exceeding
1994 averages. Owning to small increase in the world oil consumption and
practically unchanged supply situation no perceptible change of prices is
A trend of natural gas prices on markets in Western Europe was
practically the same as the oil price dynamics. In 1995 average prices were
by 13.4 percent higher as compared with 1994.
Prices of nonferrous metals have risen dramatically. In 1995 average
world prices were as follows: aluminum -- $ 1806 per metric ton (20.3
percent rise in comparison with 1994), copper -- $ 2933 (higher by 23.3
percent), nickel -- $ 8063 (19.3 percent growth).
As a result of the 1994-95 record price surge in the whole period
after the World War II cellulose joined the leaders with a 50 percent price
hike (up to more than $ 1000 per metric ton). According to a middle-range
outlook price stabilization accompanied by a slight price rise is expected.
As market relations develop, process of internal price structure
formation continues in Russia and it gradually closes to the price system
existing on world markets. In 1995 contract prices grew perceptibly,
however, prices of a majority of energy resources lagged behind those on
the world trade markets in terms of rates of increase. The outcome was a
worsening balance between contract and world prices.
An important role in development of the international trade is played
by the GATT/WTO which for 48 years tried to work out the fundamentals of a
future world trade basing on principles of observance of the Agreement's
general regulations aimed to keep up non-discrimination of individual
states and to a gradual elimination of barriers slowing down mutual
exchange of commodities. Since 1950 the world trade turnover has increased
by 13 times and eight rounds of multilateral trade negotiations held under
the GATT's auspices have led to a ten-fold cut of average customs duties.
At present it makes a bit less than 4 percent.
Russia's accession to the WTO will make it possible to tap all
measures existing within the framework of this organization in order to
protect Russia's economic interests. At present direct or concealed
discrimination of Russian producers and traders on markets of certain
countries is among factors affecting Russian exports dynamics. Thus, only
the ban on Russian uranium exports to the USA has led to losses for Russia,
as estimated by some experts, at $170 million a year. The total number of
anti-dumping procedures imposed upon Russia has reached 41. More than a
half of them (22) are qualified as openly discriminatory cases or
unjustified claims by the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations.
In the summer of 1995 the first round of negotiations between the
Russian delegation and the WTO's Working Group on Russia took place in
Geneva. Members of the Working Group apprised information on foreign trade
regulations stated in the Russian Memorandum as exhaustive enough.
An outcome of the second round taking place from December 4 to 7 of
1995 was the completion of discussion of the Russian Memorandum on the
foreign trade regime as concerns trade in goods. Besides, the first
discussion on special annexes to the Memorandum embracing protection of
intellectual property rights, trade in services and trade-related
investment measures was held. At the same time, the WTO member countries
have reserved the right to revert to a detailed discussion on three key
issues: if state-owned trade organizations exist in Russia (Moscow denies
this); import licensing; subsidizing of external operations. However, even
now they agree in principle that the Russian legislation is in accordance
with the WTO's rules and norms in these areas of the foreign trade
There are no apparent opponents to Russia's accession to the WTO,
since the world trade, especially in the area of trade in raw materials,
cannot be regulated without participation of Russia. However, the admission
of Russia may be surrounded by a number of additional obligations not
directly following from the WTO requirements. Bilateral consultations held
in Geneva have shown that Russia will face some complications in the course
of tariff negotiations.
On the whole, the outcome of the second round of Geneva talks has been
successful for Russia.
2. Regulation of External Economic Activities
In 1995 certain changes were introduced to the mechanism of the state
regulation of the foreign trade. In the first half of 1995 the state
regulation of oil exports was substantially amended: quotas and licenses in
oil exports were abolished alongside with preferences (with exclusion of
supply pursuant to intergovernmental agreements) while export duties on oil
and oil products were significantly reduced; certain oil products were
excluded from the list of strategically important commodities. Producers'
access to channels allowing transportation of oil to other countries
(pipelines and terminals in sea ports) became a natural restraint on
The list of strategically important raw commodities was shortened and
the institution of special exporters was abolished altogether. The system
of contracts' registration became the main instrument of control over
exports. Individual preferences granted to participants of external
economic activities were abolished, excluding those issued in accordance
with the laws of the Russian Federation.
The law "On State Regulation of Foreign Trade" adopted in July came
into force in October. The law stipulated what authority in this area shall
be with the President, the Government and the Ministry of Foreign Economic
Relations. The exclusiveness of the MFER's position was emphasized by the
fact that only it was vested with the right to license import and export
transactions subject to quantitative restrictions or to approval
As pursuant to the law, the Russian Government shall submit a program
of foreign trade development together with a draft of the Federal budget
for the Parliament's approval. Alongside with other provisions this program
shall embrace customs tariff rates planned for the year in question as well
as the band of their possible fluctuation, thus making the foreign trade
more predictable. The Government has the right to introduce export and
import quantitative restrictions on national security grounds, to comply
with international agreements or to protect the domestic market, however,
these measures shall be announced not less than 3 months prior to their
actual introduction. The law envisages a possibility to introduce state
monopoly for trade in certain products. In this case a special procedure of
licensing import and export operations exclusively to state-owned
enterprises shall be applied.
As the above mentioned law was effectuated, the Commission of the RF
Government on Safeguard Measures in Foreign Trade became fully legitimate
and in December it received "Procedures of Investigation Prior to
Application of Safeguard Measures" approved by the MFER (Russ.abbr. MVES).
A possibility to apply safeguard measures against competitive imported
products complies with usual practices applicable in the world trade. In
this area Russia is late in working out and application of such measures,
especially taking into account that Russian exports are often and in most
cases unjustifiably subject to discrimination on foreign markets. So, the
RF import regime loses its exceptional liberalism which has been
characteristic of it until recently.
Tariff regulation. From September through December export duties
levels were gradually lowered until their complete abolition since January
1, 1996, with an exception of a small group of goods including oil, natural
gas and some other raw commodities.
In June and in October, 1996 import duty rates were changed. On the
whole, changes were made in direction of an increase in tariffs. Earlier
goods taxable at 1 percent have constituted a rather significant part of
the list, at present this rate is only applicable to certain goods within
Group 10 of the External Economic Activity commodity nomenclature (grain)
and 1701 (cane sugar, beet firm sugar and sucrose). A 10 percent tariff is
now applied to medicines which earlier have been exempt from duties while
fish and fish products are subject to a double rise of duties (from 5 to 10
percent) and duties on vegetables were tripled (from 5 to 15 percent). For
foodstuffs earlier exempted from duties new tariffs made 5 percent on
bananas and citrus fruits, 10 percent on tee and coffee, 15 percent on
fresh cucumbers, however, rates of import duties in Russia still remain
considerably lower than in the EU countries (16 percent against 21
percent). There were effectuated provisions stipulating a 30 percent duty
on goods such as luxuries, tobacco products, alcoholic beverages and
Tax regulation. As before, close attention was paid to products
subject to excise taxation. In July and in December, 1996 a price
difference between excise stamps and special stamps designated for imported
tobacco and alcohol products were adjusted. There were created equal
conditions for importers of these products both from countries within and
outside of the former Soviet Union (ECU 0.1 per unit of an alcohol beverage
and ECU 0.01 per unit of a tobacco product). In December the rate of excise
tax on tobacco products was increased from ECU 1.2 to ECU 2 per 1000
In June the list of products subject to a preferential 10 percent
value added tax was shortened; it was again examined in detail in November
and some new products were added to it. In December works and services,
both produced domestically and purchased, being exported to countries
outside the CIS alongside with services concerning the transit of foreign
cargo through Russian territory were exempted from the value added tax.
Preferences in External Economic Activities. In October, 1996 the
Government abolished previously applicable preferential taxation of
alcoholic beverages imported from abroad by certain legal entities which
were exempt from customs duties (for instance, the National Fund of Sports
and the All-Russian Society of Invalids). Since December, pursuant to the
Presidential Decree "On Customs Preferences" of November 30, 1995, it is
inadmissible for Federal agencies to adopt decisions which would provide
prolongation of preferences in terms of customs duty exempts and receipts
of additional compensations.
In August, 1996 the control mechanism over incoming export proceeds
denominated in foreign exchange was adjusted. All proceeds in foreign
currencies shall be entered into accounts with authorized banks--that
became a requirement of the customs regime. Customs service now enjoys the
right to control all capital flows and apply relevant sanctions if
In September, 1996 the control over exports and imports of military-
purposed products, works and services, subject to licensing, was tightened.
In December the set of instruments of the state control mechanism over
imports was supplemented. The system of foreign exchange control over
imports introduced on January 1, 1996, is basing on the same principles as
the export control existing since 1994 and envisages the same chain of
relations: an importer--an authorized bank--customs. The key document
fundamental for the whole control system is a registration certificate for
3. Foreign Trade Pattern
In 1995 Russian foreign trade was influenced by differently directed
factors. A favorable state of the world market and the governmental policy
of stimulating exports via regular lowering of export duties provided for a
further increase in volumes of trade with countries outside the former
Soviet Union and a stable active balance of the foreign trade.
Estimating Russian foreign trade the following adverse factors shall
be taken into account: a decline in production, small amounts of
investment, rather high inflation rates, insufficient level of state
assistance for development of the country's export potential, poor
competitiveness of many Russian-made manufactured products, especially of
machines and equipment, lack of positive shifts in development of Russia's
external relations with countries of the former CMEA, huge external debt,
discriminatory barriers banning a number of Russian-made products from
external markets. In connection with accession of Finland, Sweden and
Austria to the EU Russia automatically became subject to anti-dumping and
quantitative restrictions concerning trade with these countries in steel,
textiles, mineral fertilizers, uranium.
Introduction of the "ruble corridor (fluctuation band)" alongside with
a relatively high internal price dynamics caused deterioration of export
transactions' effectiveness. However, due to liberalization of energy
resources exports, the export sector reacted to the introduction of the
"corridor" slower and not so sharply as critics of a fixed exchange rate
had believed. At the same time, stabilization of ruble exchange rate
created a sufficiently favorable transaction climate for importers allowing
them to compensate a part of the loss inflicted by an increase in import
Goskomstat reports that the Russian foreign trade turnover,
unorganized trade including, made $ 135.7 billion in 1995, or by 16 percent
more in comparison with 1994 figures. Exports were at $ 77.8 billion (a 18
percent increase) and imports at $ 57.9 billion (by 15 percent more).
The results of external economic activities in 1992 through 1995 are
indicative of the fact that Russia re-oriented its trade towards
industrialized countries and that the share of countries outside the former
Soviet Union in the total foreign trade turnover has grown. In 1995
countries outside the former USSR accounted for 78 percent of it. In 1992
through 1995 exports to these countries increased at a record rate in the
last 20 years with exports showing a 25 percent growth ($ 64.3 billion) and
imports (together with unorganized trade) increasing by 12 percent ($ 41.6
In 1995 growth rates slowed down considerably. Thus, while in the
first quarter exports grew by 45 percent as compared with the same period
in the last year, in the second quarter it made only 29 percent and showed
a modest 15 percent increase in the third quarter. Undoubtedly, export
growth rates were affected by the "currency corridor (fluctuation band)"
introduced in the second half of the year.
As before, the bulk of Russian exports consists of raw materials. Fuel
and energy resources account for the biggest share (41 percent) of exports,
while the Fuel-and-Energy Complex production (oil, natural gas, oil
products) becomes more and more oriented towards external markets.
In 1995 a decline in export growth rates in real terms was observed as
natural gas exports increased by 11 percent (14 percent in 1994), oil
products grew by 8 percent (11 percent), oil--by only 1 percent (11
Growth of exports as calculated in value terms was primarily caused by
a favorable situation on the world market. Average contract oil prices of
exports in the countries outside the former Soviet Union increased by about
7 percent as compared with 1994 figures, natural gas exports grew by 10
percent while oil products showed a 6.6 percent increase.
Metal exports accounted for a 20 percent share in the Russian exports.
Nickel and ferrous metals exports grew most rapidly at 37 and 26 percent
accordingly. Average export prices of key metals surged, thus, price of
nickel increased by 33.1 percent, of aluminum--by 36.9 percent, of copper--
by 24.2 percent, of ferrous alloys--by 24.7 percent, of pig iron--by 14.6
percent. The pattern of metal exports has somewhat changed. Customs
statistics reveal a growing number of contracts on export of finished metal
articles, however, their share in the total export volumes is still
insignificant. These articles are being made according to designs of
foreign companies (mostly in aircraft and engineering industries) under a
binding condition that they shall be manufactured in accordance with the
West European standards and certified by a foreign firm. It is too early to
suggest the end of an age of raw exports conducted in their most primitive
form, however, the Russian metal industry is given an opportunity to
participate in the international division of labor on equal basis and to
reach a qualitatively new level of production.
The share of chemicals made 9.6 percent. Mineral fertilizers still
remain a key export item in the industry. Export volumes of mineral
fertilizers increased by 14 percent in comparison with 1994 figures.
Simultaneously, average contract prices also grew (by 24 percent).
Export patterns within the forestry and paper industry tended to be
oriented towards raw materials in recent years affecting the structure of
currency proceeds accordingly. A third of foreign exchange proceeds was
derived from raw timber (logs) exports while semi-finished timber (lumber)
accounted for 25 percent of proceeds and processing-intensive products
brought only 32 percent.
A considerable increase in physical volumes of exports in the
countries outside the former Soviet Union as compared with the previous
year figures was reported for logs (37 percent) and cellulose (38 percent).
At the same time, average export prices of logs grew by 2.8 percent and of
cellulose -- by 96.6 percent.
One of the ways to increase export revenues is an expansion of sales
markets for Russian-made weapons and military equipment. Export volumes of
military production made $ 2.6 billion in 1995, that being by 1.7 times
more than in 1994.
The share of machines and equipment in Russian exports to countries
outside the former Soviet Union contracted to 3.8 percent as compared with
5.3 percent in 1994. Development of new competitive and technologically-
intensive products relevant to modern level of requirements on external
markets demands large investment and is time-consuming.
Table 5.2 Volumes of Russian Foreign Trade with Countries Outside
Former Soviet Union in Value Terms (without unorganized trade, US$
Source: Ministry of Economy of RF.
| |1992 |1993 |1994 |1995 |
| |$ |In % |$ |In % |$ |In % |$ |In % |
| |billio|to |billio|to |billio|to |billio|to |
| |n |previo|n |previo|n |previo|n |previo|
| | |us | |us | |us | |us |
| | |year | |year | |year | |year |
|Foreign trade|79.4 |83.2 |71.1 |89.5 |79.8 |112.2 |97.6 |122.3 |
|turnover | | | | | | | | |
|Exports |42.4 |83.3 |44.3 |104.5 |51.5 |116.1 |64.3 |125.1 |
|Imports |37.0 |83.1 |26.8 |72.4 |28.3 |105.7 |33.3 |117.4 |
|Balance |5.4 |87.1 |17.5 |324.0 |23.2 |132.0 |31.0 |133.0 |
An increase in internal productional costs, first of all at the
expense of energy and raw materials, more expensive loans, growing
transport expenses, aging production assets in extractive and processing
branches, deteriorating productional situation contributed to diminishing
effectiveness of export transactions. At present only export of natural
gas, oil, nickel, timber and lumber are profitable. Export of oil products,
ferrous and nonferrous metals, chemicals begins to bring losses. However,
due to worsening financial situation of Russian enterprises and growing
payment arrears exporters prefer to have hard currencies even at declining
or altogether negative profitability of exports.
The most dynamic and growing market of the Russian Federation are
industrialized Western countries. The largest share of Russian exports goes
to Germany (9.1 percent). The USA account for 6.9 percent, Switzerland--for
5.8 percent, Italy--for 5.6 percent, Japan--for 5.5 percent, Netherlands --
for 4.9 percent, Great Britain -- for 4.7 percent and Finland--for 4
percent of Russian exports.
The pattern of Russian imports has not been changed considerably. As
before, machines and equipment were ranked first and accounted for a 38
percent share of the total imports which grew by 23 percent in comparison
with 1994. It was caused by a necessity to provide key branches of the
national economy with modern technologies and equipment.
A decline in agriculture followed by deteriorating provision of the
populace with domestic-made foodstuffs has led to an expansion of food
imports. Such measures as a rise of import duty rates, introduction of
excises and of value added tax, abolition of preferences concerning import
tariffs, which have been taken lately, contributed to an increase in
internal prices of imported goods thus creating prerequisites to restrain
imports. However, stabilization of ruble somewhat compensated for the
negative impact of growing import duties and excises and helped to increase
In 1995 imports grew considerably, especially of such products as
sunflower oil (a 232 percent increase), poultry (by 70 percent more),
alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (a 67 percent increase), butter (an
increase by 65 percent), frozen meat (by 43 percent more).
In the nearest future dynamics and pattern of the country's foreign
trade will be first of all determined by the internal economic situation,
i.e. whether it shows signs of business revival or not, by changes in the
structure of supply and solvent demand on the domestic market, as well as
by exchange rate policies. The regulatory mechanism of the external
economic activities may also change due to political factors.
In 1996 exports grew somewhat slower (at about 1--3 percent rates). It
was expected that export of major fuel and energy resources would remain at
the same level while such products as metals, chemicals, timber, pulp and
paper would be exported in increasing quantities.
Oil and natural gas exports remained profitable because estimated
rates of internal price growth prevailed.
Imports pattern changed impacted by a growth of the share of
technological equipment and manufactured consumer goods. Growing imports of
key foodstuffs and non-food consumer goods led to application of certain
measures aimed to tighten protectionist regime in order to safeguard
domestic industries in 1996 (import quotas introduced).
In 1995 Russian foreign trade turnover with the CIS countries made $
29.8 billion, increasing by 5 percent in comparison with 1994 figures, it
is due, first of all, to a price rise concerning fuel and energy products
(14 -- 28 percent on the average). Exports made $ 13.5 billion, or by 9
percent less than in 1994 while imports reached $ 16.3 billion (a 21
percent increase). The share of the CIS countries in the Russian foreign
trade turnover diminished by 2 percent as compared with the previous year
figures and made 22 percent.
For the first time in the years of the CIS existence Russia had a
negative trade balance with these countries ($ -2.8 billion) while in 1994
it had a trade surplus of $ 1.2 billion. Starting from the end of the last
year imports from the CIS grew at a fast rate while exports gradually
The main reason determining the import surplus is an unbalanced,
owning to a crisis situation existing in national economies, foreign trade
within the CIS framework, that rendering difficulties in settlement of the
CIS countries debts, especially those due for fuel and energy resources
supply. According to current data, these debts as of January 1, 1996, made
Rb 15.6 trillion, or two times more than in 1995. It is hardly justified to
attribute Russian shrinking exports to neighboring countries to
introduction of the "currency corridor (fluctuation band)" as their fall
began as early as April while to the contrary in October some increase in
export operations was observed. On the other hand, introduction of the
"currency corridor (fluctuation band)" and stabilization of ruble exchange
rates enhanced effectiveness of operations of exporters from countries
within the former Soviet Union on the Russian market.
As before, the fuel and energy products accounted for the bulk of
exports to the CIS member countries (about 50 percent). Total volumes of
oil exports diminished by 22 percent as compared with the previous year
while export of oil products shrank even more considerably -- by 60
percent, the fact caused not only by payment arrears in reciprocal
transactions, but by growing export prices of Russian oil which increased
by 28.3 percent in comparison with the last year figures and reached $ 74.9
per metric ton (that making roughly 70 percent of prices under export
contracts with countries outside the former Soviet Union). However, now
some CIS countries try to reduce their dependence on Russian energy supply.
For instance, Moldavia has already signed an oil import agreement with Iran
while Ukraine relies upon cooperation with countries of the Persian Gulf.
At the same time, Russian oil exports to Byelorussia grew considerably as a
result of creation of the common customs area, that allowing Byelorussian
oil processing enterprises to purchase oil at prices quoted on the Russian
The pattern of Russian exports somewhat changed in 1995 as compared
with 1994, for instance coal exports grew by 32 percent, iron ore exports
increased twofold and export of ferrous metals also showed signs of growth.
As concerns import operations, the role of the CIS member countries
remains an important one in terms of providing Russia with foodstuffs.
Thus, the share of white sugar imports from these countries reached 80
percent while their volumes increased by more than two times since the last
year. There was also observed an increase in imports of grain, meat,
butter. At the same time, a trend to purchase fewer consumer goods in
countries within the former Soviet Union in connection to availability of
cheaper similar products of quality made in the West manifests itself.
The Customs Union of Russia, Byelorussia and Kazakhstan which was
established in 1995 and faces a number of objective difficulties and
contradictions caused in the first turn by differences in levels of
development and directions of reforms. The Intergovernmental Economic
Committee which at last started to perform its functions in 1995 still
lacks supranational authority; unsettled problems of mutual payment arrears
prevent activities of the Payment Union.
Prospects of foreign trade developments within the CIS cannot be
estimated in simple terms. The Commonwealth's objective orientation towards
integration faces grave political and economic problems. It is probable
that in the beginning of next year a negative trade balance with
neighboring countries will remain, in particular due to further decline in
export of fuel and energy products.
On the whole, the Commonwealth's future, undoubtedly, will depend on
the political situation in Russia. However, the experience of the last few
years demonstrates that Russia's partners within the CIS prefer to act
according to their economic interests rather than to political rhetorics.
The CIS member countries are interested in an economic cooperation with
Russia exactly because it has progressed relatively further on the way of
reforms. That is why slackening pace of the reform or a complete stop of
the transformation may damage trends towards integration to such extent
that any political declarations on closer unity and cooperation will be
Balance of Payments
The balance of payments reflecting Russian residents' activities in
the external sector reveals the following key facts.
In 1995, the strengthening ruble did not hold back the growth of trade
surplus: exports increased at a greater rate than imports.
As during previous periods import of services exceeded their exports,
that being primarily attributed to developing tourism to countries outside
the former Soviet Union. Thus, import of tourist services exceeded imports
by $ 5366 million. As a result, current accounts balance was by 43 percent
less than the balance of foreign trade. Operations of governmental agencies
prevailed in the capital account. External debt grew due both to new
borrowing and deferments and arrears in debt servicing.
Non-state sector operations were mostly represented by commercial
loans, both in terms of merchandise exports with deferred payments and
advance payments. As concerns direct and portfolio investment, they
remained at an insignificant level.
Growing reliance of residents on ruble was shown by somewhat
decreasing amounts of cash foreign exchange.
As a rule, commercial structures accounted for loans granted to non-
residents. The main form of such loans was export loans of enterprises.
Non-repatriation of export proceeds became an important factor
destabilizing the financial sphere. In January through September of 1995 it
reached $ 5.6 billion, as the State Customs Committee (GTK) reports. This
figure is comparable to all foreign loans drawn by the state in the same
The amount of payments due to disburse the official external debt
exerted more pressure on the Federal budget as compared with the same
period of the last year. While in 9 months of 1994 96 percent of actual
payments to disburse the official external debt were financed at the
expense of external sources and only $ 134 million were received from
internal sources, in 9 months of 1995 the figures made 89.5 percent and $
590 million accordingly.
Russian Economic Academy “Plekhanov”
Student’s name: Suprun Diana