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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gloomy prospects for Russia's international reserves

RBC, 18.12.2008, Moscow 17:41:28.– According to Russia's Deputy Economy Minister Andrei Klepach, Russia's international reserves will contract by $110bn-140bn to just $300bn by the end of 2009. As of December 1, 2008, the reserves stood at $455.73bn, down 5.95 percent month-on-month. Meanwhile, reserve assets in foreign currency amounted to $404.563bn, with Russia's IMF reserve position at $1.018bn, and special drawing rights (SDRs) at 1bn.

Russia stands by plan to join WTO despite credit crunch

MOSCOW, December 10 (RIA Novosti) - Despite the difficulties facing Russia's economy amid the global credit crunch, the country has not abandoned its plans to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), the foreign minister said on Wednesday. "Despite continuing doubts in some circles, joining the WTO without unnecessary delays is still a priority of Russian foreign policy. Of course, it may be true that during a crisis period it is better to be outside the WTO system, but we take a long-term view and are aware of our international responsibilities," Sergei Lavrov told a meeting of European businessmen. He said Russia views WTO membership as "a necessary condition for improving the commodity structure of our foreign trade and GDP, and therefore a means for Russia of taking its rightful place in the international labor setup, in the future economy." However, the minister stressed that Russia is not ready to join the WTO "regardless of the price" involved. Moscow had expected to join the 153-member global trade body by the end of next year, but the accession process has dragged on due to a number of political and economic factors. Russia is the only major world economy still outside the WTO. The agreement of all 153 WTO members is necessary for a state to join the global trade body. The majority of analysts believe that Russia will not join the WTO earlier than 2010.

Russian companies most likely to offer bribes abroad says survey

LONDON, December 9 (RIA Novosti) - Russian companies are considered the most likely to engage in bribery abroad according to the results of a survey of senior business executives released by Transparency International on Tuesday. The international organization, based in Berlin, asked just over 2,700 senior business executives from the world's 22 wealthiest and most economically influential countries how often, in their experience, firms headquartered in particular countries engaged in bribery. The 22 countries were Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Belgium and Canada were rated the "most honest" countries in the Bribe Payer Index (BPI) with 8.8 points out a maximum of 10. Russia had 5.9 points, while the one but last place was taken by China, with 6.5. The most corrupt sectors were building, real estate, the oil and gas industry and the mining industry. Russia, India and China are among the counties which have not signed the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's convention against bribery. "The BPI provides evidence that a number of companies from major exporting countries still use bribery to win business abroad, despite awareness of its damaging impact on corporate reputations and ordinary communities," said Transparency International Chair, Huguette Labelle, in a press release. "The inequity and injustice that corruption causes makes it vital for governments to redouble their efforts to enforce existing laws and regulations on foreign bribery and for companies to adopt effective anti-bribery programmes. In this spirit, all major exporting countries should commit to the provisions of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention," she added. The survey was carried out by Gallup International for Transparency International between August 5 and October 29.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Light beckons from depths of financial crisis

Light beckons from depths of financial crisis28 November 2008 - Russia Today - The credit crisis has not spared Russia, with its vast reserves and its once-massive windfall fund. But as severe as the current financial mess may seem, it will come to an end and experts are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. Recession, depression, depreciation and deflation - these are just a few scary terms that accompany global economy as it goes haywire. But some, including Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin, are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. “The situation has normalized. People don’t seem to be as worried, so banks can slowly return to business as usual. They can finally focus on lending to the real economy. Within a few months, or perhaps even sooner, Russian banks, and State owned banks in particular, will boost their lending programs.” According to Erik Berglof, Chief Economist for the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the recovery signs are easy to spot. “We need to wait for the United States to pick up for this region to really have a chance to also turn around in a serious way in terms of growth, and so the most optimistic forecast now are talking about late 2009.” There is no sure way to tell when the global economy hits the bottom. But US economist Nouriel Roubini - who saw the crisis coming in 2006 - said Russia's path to recovering may be shorter than for its Western counterparts. "How fast Russia’s going to recover is going to depend on the set of financial policies and fiscal policies. It will still be a rough year, 2009, but policy responses are going to help to get you [Russia] out of it faster.” As the world nears the end of a total and indiscriminate mistrust in the market, it can count of having stronger banking systems and better regulated financial markets.

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