The impact of the world financial crisis made the Russian monetary authorities to pass new “Basic directions of general state monetary and credit policy for 2009 and for the period of 2010-2011” in late October 2008. The policy of smooth lowering ruble exchange rate ended in March 2009 with achieving the corridor at RUR38-41 per the USD/EUR basket compared to RUR29-30 per the basket in September 2008. The mentioned basket consists of USD0.55 and EUR0.45. In early 2010 the RF monetary authorities made the corridor floating and it reached RUR33.7-36.7 per the basket in April 2010 due to the rise in world prices of Russian major export commodities. However the RF monetary authorities do not pursue a policy of completely free floating ruble exchange rate because of the political, economic and legal restrictions.
To neutralize excessive ruble amounts of commercial banks, the RF Ministry of Finance was holding auctions on sale of federal official bonds (OFZ). The total size of sales of federal securities by the RF Ministry of Finance amounted to RUR427.0 bn in 2009 compared to RUR183.3 bn sold in 2008, while the total size of repaying these securities from the federal budget reached RUR174.5 bn in 2009 against RUR161.5 bn in 2008.
The RF Central Bank was using other monetary and credit instruments for slowing down inflation. The RF Central Bank managed to sell its own bonds under condition of their redemption on the definite dates at the amount of RUR305 bn in 2009. The size of deposit operations of Russian commercial banks in the RF Central Bank reached RUR17.6 trillion in 2009.
The size of the RF Reserve Fund amounted to RUR1830.5 bn (USD60.5 bn) by January 1, 2010; that of the Fund of the National Prosperity – to RUR2769.0 bn (USD91.6 bn), accordingly. By April 1, 2010 the size of the RF Reserve Fund amounted to RUR1553.3 bn (USD52.9 bn); that of the Fund of the National Prosperity – to RUR2630.7 bn (USD89.6 bn).
The Russian authorities are aware of the insufficiency of monetary instruments to curb inflation under conditions when they do not make considerable efforts to restrict appetites of the monopolies in the field of production and distribution of natural gas, electricity, thermal energy and other communal and railroad transport services as well as of oil products. That is why the consumer price index (CPI) was 108.8 in December 2009 as compared with December 2008; that is less than in December 2008 compared to December 2007 – 113.3. The consumer price growth is estimated at 111.7 in the whole 2009 against the whole 2008 (114.1 in 2008 against 2007).
The fall in real effective ruble exchange rate is 3.9% in December 2009 as against December 2008. Real ruble depreciation against USD is 0.4% in December 2009 as compared with December 2008, while real ruble depreciation against EUR is 6.5% in the same period.
There was ruble nominal devaluation in comparison with US dollar and against euro in 2009. During 2009 the official RUR/USD exchange rate fixed by the RF Central Bank went down by 2.9% (or from RUR29.38 per USD as on December 31, 2008 to RUR30.24 per USD as on December 31, 2009). In 2009 the official RUR/EUR exchange rate went down by 4.7% (or from RUR41.44 per EUR as on December 31, 2008 to RUR43.39 per EUR as on December 31, 2009). In March 2010 the CPI reached 103.2 compared to December 2009. As on March 31, 2010 official RUR/USD exchange rate was 29.36, while the official RUR/EUR exchange rate reached 39.70.
Trade policy overview
The customs regulation activity of the RF authorities has slowed greatly since January 1, 2010 due to setting up the Customs Union of Russia Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Nevertheless there are some legal acts in this sphere.
1. Export regulation
1.1. Non-tariff measures
The rate of export customs duty on crude oil and raw oil products (2709) produced of bituminous rocks and exported from the RF territory outside the borders of the Customs Union member states was set at USD253.6 per a ton from March 1, 2010, USD268.9 per a ton from April 1, 2010 and USD284 per a ton since May 1, 2010 compared to USD270.7 per a ton from February 1, 2010.
Export customs duty rate on light crude oil lifted in 13 deposits of East Siberia (2709 00 900 1 and 2709 00 900 2 ) is set at 0% of customs value since December 1, 2009 and has not changed until June 1, 2010.
The rate of export customs duty on the main light oil products (tariff heading numbers 2710 11 – 2710 19 490, 2711 12 – 2711 19 000 0, 2902 20 000 0 – 2902 43 000 0) was set at USD183.2 per a ton since March 1, 2010, USD193.5 per a ton since April 1, 2010 and USD203.7 per a ton since May 1, 2010 compared to USD194.7 per a ton since February 1, 2010.
The rate on liquefied oil gases (2711 12 – 2711 19 000 0) is set at USD80 per a ton since March 1, 2010, USD65 per a ton since April 1, 2010 and USD53 per a ton since May 1, 2010 compared to USD65 per a ton since February 1, 2010.
The rate on the dark oil products (tariff heading numbers 2710 19 510 0 – 2710 99 000 0, 2712, except 2712 90 110 0 and 2713, except 2713 12 000 0) was set at USD98.7 per a ton since March 1, 2010, USD104.2 since April 1, 2010 and USD109.7 per a ton since May 1, 2010 compared to USD104.9 per a ton since February 1, 2010
(Russian Government resolutions: №88, February 24, 2010, №187, March 29, 2010, №286 от April 26, 2010)
2. Import regulation
2.1. Non-tariff measures
Russia’s Government passed a resolution on liquidating the fishing implements banned for import. According to the RF Government resolution №694, August 20, 2009 the implements include the following items since September 5, 2009: ready made fish-nets made of nylon and other polyamide threads (5608 11 190 0); ready made fish-nets made of other synthetic threads (5608 11 990 0); electrical devices for catching fish (8543 20 000 0).
Since February 18, 2010 the customs officials have got the right to take away these fishing implements. After a court judgment on confiscating, the mentioned fishing implements shall be subject to liquidation under the established procedure
(Russian Government resolution №42, February 2, 2010)
The RF ministry of Industry and Trade has got the right to give general licenses on import of ethyl alcohol and alcohol drinks since May 5, 2010. The licenses relate to ethyl alcohol and alcohol drinks mentioned in section 2.1.8 of the Unified list of imported and exported goods subject or restrictions of the countries being members of the Customs Union for trade with the third countries. (Russian Government resolution №261, April 21, 2010).
2.2. Tariff and tax measures
The RF Government passed a resolution on making amendments in the list of technological equipment, their completing and spare parts whose analogues are not produced in Russia and whose import is not subject to VAT.
Since March 25, 2010 VAT is not levied on the following kinds of equipment for producing textile and knitted fabric: 8445 19 000 9, 8445 20 000 9, 8445 30 900 9, 8445 40 000 9, 8445 90 000 9, 8447 11 100 9, 8447 12 100 9, 8447 12 900 0, 8447 20 800 0 and 8447 90 900 9; metal cutting and metallurgic equipment: 8455 22 000 5, 8460 31 000 1, 8460 90 900 5, 9031 80 340 0 and 8514 30 990 0; technological line for producing MDF plates: 8479 30 100 9.
(Russian Government resolution №110, March 2, 2010)
Since April 10, 2010 South Korean producers are subject to the measure for protecting Russian producers of fiberglass nets. The measure imposed by the RF Government resolution #757 of November 6, 2007 stipulates a special duty at the rate 14.2% of customs value on the fiberglass nets for producing abrasive wares and at the rate 33.4% of customs value on the other fiberglass nets
(Russian Government resolution №112, March 2, 2010)
The RF Government passed another resolution on making amendments in the list of technological equipment, their completing and spare parts whose analogues are not produced in Russia and whose import is not subject to VAT.
Casting machines for casting under pressure (8454 30 100 0) has been excluded from the list since April 28, 2010. This means the imported casting machines are subject again to levying with VAT.
On the other hand, VAT is not levied on imported technological lines for processing wares of thermal power plants and wares of mining and metallurgical production (8479 82 000 0) since April 28, 2010 (Russian Government resolution №236, April 13, 2010).
Foreign investment regulation
On special economic zones in Russia
The Federal law of December 25, 2009 № 340-ФЗ “On making amendments in the Federal Law “On special economic zones in the Russian Federation” and the certain laws of the Russian Federation” came into effect on December 28, 2009.
The amendments made by the law are important and very duly for further development of special economic zones (SEZs) in Russia. The practice and experience of setting up SEZs of different types and their functioning had been analyzed for preparing the new law. Besides, the authors of the law had taken into account opinions of SEZ residents and potential investors on perfecting activities of SEZs.
The amendments increase investment benefits of special economic zones considerably. Firstly, the minimal size of investment is cut down for getting a resident status of industrial and port SEZs. Secondly, the list of permitted activities in SEZs is expanded substantially. The new law permits output of hi-tech products in the technical innovation SEZs and production of ships and aircrafts in port SEZs. The new law also permits certain activities involved with production of metals in SEZs.
The new law stipulates an important amendment on giving land lots in the areas near a SEZ to a SEZ managing company without holding a tender. This will enable to ensure construction of SEZs infrastructural units and to solve a problem of building dwelling for the residents.
Most amendments relate to the procedures of setting up and managing special economic zones. The Federal Agency on managing special economic zones was liquidated by the RF President’s decree №1107 of October 5, 2009. Its functions were given completely to the RF Ministry of Economic Development. Thus, President took a decision to pass to the two-level system for managing special economic zones with redistributing authorities among the RF Ministry of economic Development, the open joint stock company “Osobye economicheskie zony” and the Russia regions.
The new law also stipulates an opportunity to attract a joint stock company and a managing company for making economic activities in a SEZ, to unite functions for working with its residents and constructing needed infrastructural units in the unified entity.
The simplified scheme for managing SEZs will enable to develop them as a unified complex project and to make them more attractive either to foreign or to Russian investments.
Besides, the new law stipulates an opportunity to transfer some authorities to the RF regions where SEZs are located. This is done to promote activities of the regional authorities, while control functions will remain at the federal level.
There is another important “anti-crisis” amendment in the law, too. That is an opportunity to set up a SEZ by the RF Government decision without passing lengthy competition procedures.
The process of reforming a system for managing special economic zones seems to pass to the final stage with approving the Federal law of December 25, 2009 № 340-ФЗ “On making amendments in the Federal Law “On special economic zones in the Russian Federation”.
It is planned to pass a set of documents regulating some functions of the former Federal Agency on managing special economic zones and its territorial departments. First of all, it concerns problems of attracting residents to SEZs and collaborating with them.
At present there are 15 special economic zones of all four types in Russia. There are more than 200 registered residents, including foreign ones, in them as on January 1, 2010. The list of SEZs is as follows.
Two special economic zones of industrial production type (the zones are set up under the RF Government resolutions №№ 782 and 784 of December 21, 2005): on the territory of Gryazi district in Lipetsk region; on the territory of Yelabuga district in Republic of Tatarstan.
Four special economic zones of technological innovation type (the RF Government resolutions №№ 779-782 of December 21, 2005): in Moscow city (Zelenograd town); in Moscow region (Dubna town); in St. Petersburg (Strelna settlement); in Tomsk city.
Seven special economic zones of tourist recreational type (the RF Government resolutions №№ 67-73 of February 3, 2007): on the territories of the municipal units “Maimin” and “Chemal” of Republic of Altai; on the territory of the municipal unit “Pribaikal” of Republic of Buryatiya; on the territory of Altai district of Altai region; on the territories of Anapa, Gelenjik and Tuapse towns and Sochi city of Krasnodar region; on the territories of Yessentuki, Zheleznovodsk, Kislovodsk, Lermontov and Pyatigorsk towns, Mineralvodsky and Predgorny municipal units of Stavropol region; on the territory of Irkutsk municipal unit of Irkutsk region; on the territory of Zelenograd district of Kaliningrad region.
Two special economic zones of port type (the RF Government resolution № 1163 of December 30, 2009 and № 1185 of December 31, 2009): on the territory of the municipal unit Cherdakly of Ulyanovsk region (airport); on the territory of Soviet Havan municipal unit of Khabarovsk region (sea port).
Besides, there are two other special economic zones set up under the special laws in Russia. They are as follows: a special economic zone in Magadan region (it was set up under Federal Law №104-ФЗ of May 31, 1999), its validity period will expire on December 31, 2014; a special economic zone in Kaliningrad region (it exists under Federal Law №16-ФЗ of January 10, 2006).
Bilateral and multilateral issues
On April 15, 2010 the second summit of the BRIC was held in Brazil’s capital. Dmitry Medvedev, President of Russia, Luis Lula da Silva, President of Brazil, Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, and Hu Tsintao, head of China, participated in the summit. The BRIC four countries account for more than 40% of the world’s population, more than 1/4th of the world’s territory and about 1/5th of the world’s trade.
The BRIC countries’ mutual actions in the frameworks of international efforts for overcoming the global economic crisis and solving the problems of development after the crisis, as well as new directions of their cooperation were discussed at the summit.
On the eve of the summit Medvedev published an article in the mass media of the BRIC countries. He noted that the BRIC was gaining more weight in the global organizations, in the first place in G20. He wrote: “Just on the basis of the joint approach at G20 summit in Pittsburgh we succeeded in making a decision on redistributing 5% of votes in the IMF and 3% in the World Bank in favor of the new developing economies”. There are examples of the cooperation in the article – so, they have taken a decision lately on setting up a joint database for analyzing food security of the BRIC countries and on promoting collaboration in exchanging agriculture technologies.
The summit to be held during 2 days was cut down due to the earthquake in China. But despite this, the parties discussed fruitfully problems of developing cooperation, in particular in the frameworks of the BRIC and the Shanghai Organization of Cooperation, promoting large scale economic projects and regional cooperation. The memorandum on cooperation of the state financial institutions for development and export support was signed during the BRIC summit. It was signed by Vnesheconombank, China’s Bank for Development, National Bank for Social and Economic Development of Brazil and Export and Import Bank of India. These banks are ready to implement project in the field
of energy, aircraft building, hi-tech equipment. Dmitriyev, head of Vnesheconombank, said it would be possible to make a contract on to supply helicopters to Latin America, including Brazil, at the total amount of USD100 million or so.
The meetings of representatives of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus, members of the Customs Union were held in March and April 2010. The agreement on setting up the Customs Union came into effect on January 1, 2010. The unified customs tariff has come into effect since January 1, 2010, and the joint Customs Code is to come into effect beginning with July 1, 2010. The countries plan to introduce customs control at the Customs Union external borders from July 1, 2010 for Belarus border and from July 1, 2011 for Kazakhstan border.
On March 25, 2010 the Customs Union customs commission set up since January 1, 2010 passed a procedure on levying and distributing import customs duties in the countries’ budgets beginning with April 1, 2010 as follows: slightly less than 88% - to Russia, 7% - to Kazakhstan and 5% - to Belarus.
The Customs Union members plan to set up a joint economic space with the joint system of technical regulation by January 1, 2012. This was announced at the international conference “Technical regulation 2012” in Moscow. This system is to remove technical barriers between the countries, to protect the internal market from poor quality products, to stimulate innovations and to increase competing ability of their goods.
The head of the EU representation in Moscow attended the conference. The question is harmonizing technical norms and standards of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus with the EU ones in the frameworks of the joint project “Harmonization of technical regulation, standardization and certification systems of the EU and Russia”. This project at the amount of EUR2.5 million was started in July 2009 by the European consortium of the corresponding organizations of Russia, France, Britain, Germany and Sweden