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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Poultry Ban May Stay

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Russia may leave the ban on U.S. poultry in effect beyond April 10 if the United States fails to fulfill all demands in a bilateral protocol, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said Tuesday.

Russia and the United States last week signed a bilateral protocol lifting the ban April 10 if the U.S. side meets all requirements of the Russian veterinarian services. Russia banned U.S. poultry imports starting March 10, citing health and safety concerns.

Under the new protocol, the United States is required to remove 14 poultry producers, whose recent shipments to Russia contained salmonella bacteria, from the list of exporters. Russia can also carry out targeted inspections of U.S. poultry production to determine whether any shipments contain salmonella bacteria.

Poultry Quotas on Way

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Russia plans to introduce quotas for poultry imports this year, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said Tuesday.

"It is too early to speak about any time frame for the quotas being introduced," Gordeyev said.

He said the Agriculture Ministry is discussing the issue with the Economic Development and Trade Ministry.

Regional Funds

MOSCOW (MT) -- Sberbank and UFG Invest, a wholly owned subsidiary of United Financial Group, have teamed up to bring mutual funds to the regions, UFG Invest chairman Dmitry Khilov said Tuesday.

Sberbank will offer shares in UFG Invest's Pyotr Stolypin open mutual fund through its offices in Nizhny Novgorod, Omsk, Tyumen, Yekaterinburg and Ufa. The bank has already begun sales in Moscow.

As of April 1, the fund's net assets had reached 37.8 million rubles ($1.25 million), with profitability of 25.9 percent in the first quarter, said UFG Invest CEO Vitaly Sotnikov.

Russia Breaks Pledge?

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Data on Tuesday showed that Russia appeared to have broken a pledge to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to curb crude exports and help the cartel prop up international prices.

A source close to the Energy Ministry said crude exports in March actually rose by 130,000 barrels per day and might rise further in the second quarter as the domestic market would not be able to absorb the rising output.

The news comes less than two weeks after Moscow promised the oil cartel it would maintain a 150,000 bpd export cut in the second quarter of the year.

Crude exports only via the state controlled Transneft pipeline system rose in March to 11.563 million tons (2.73 million bpd) from 9.948 million tons in February.

"Output is rising dramatically. The domestic market glut has not eased at all since the beginning of the year. The [Transneft] system is dangerously full," the source said.

Q1 Crude Output Up

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Crude oil and gas condensate output rose in the first quarter of this year to 89.584 million tons (7.30 million barrels per day) from 82.381 million tons in January to March 2001, industry sources said Tuesday.

Crude oil exports to destinations outside the Commonwealth of Independent States, including oil in transit for other ex-Soviet oil-producing republics, rose to 38.175 million tons from 35.355 million tons in the same period last year.

Russia alone exported 32.564 million tons in January to March compared with 31.203 million tons in the first three months of 2001.

Export Duty Rise

MOSCOW (MT) -- The government may increase export duties on oil starting from June 1 based on the results of two months of monitoring the dynamics of oil prices on the world market, Interfax reported First Deputy Finance Minister Alexei Ulyukayev as saying Tuesday.

"In the second quarter, the market situation will get worse," he said, adding that an increase in budget revenue should be expected after the decision is made to increase the export duties.

Less Bureaucracy

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- The number of civil servants may be cut by 150 to 200 in Moscow and another 700 to 1,000 in the regions after a new law on licensing is adopted, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin told reporters Tuesday.

Kudrin also called for the reduction of the number of state agencies that supervise the consumer market, which are often "unnecessary" or perform overlapping functions.

The new law exempts certain types of activity from licensing altogether and simplifies licensing of other businesses.

Norilsk Share Capital

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Shareholders of metals giant Norilsk Nickel have voted to cut the company's share capital by 15.34 percent, Norilsk said.

In a statement issued Monday, Norilsk said the cut was aimed at phasing out shares still held by its former parent company after a complex restructuring.

China-Russia Pipe

SINGAPORE (Reuters) -- China National Petroleum Corp. will invest about $700 million in a proposed $2 billion Chinese-Russian pipeline project expected to be operational by 2005, official Chinese media reported Tuesday.

The 2,400 kilometer pipeline will ship Siberian crude to China, with most of the oil set to be used by refineries in the Daqing oil-producing region in northeast China, reported Beijing-based industry newsletter China OGP, a unit of Xinhua news agency. It said Russia's financial commitment to the project was expected to total $1 billion.

Chinese Meat Ban Off

BEIJING (Reuters) -- Russia has removed a ban on imports of Chinese pork, beef and poultry imposed last month because China has not cooperated with its veterinary services, China's foreign trade ministry said Tuesday.

The ban imposed by Russia on March 15 was lifted Monday following bilateral discussions, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation said in a statement.

"The issue was finally properly resolved and this will have a beneficial impact on trade relations between the two sides," MOFTEC said.

For the Record

Natural gas output rose in January to March to 159.768 billion cubic meters from 156.870 bcm in the same period of 2001, an industry source close to the Energy Ministry said Tuesday. (Reuters)

Auto production rose 5.5 percent year on year in January to February to 198,637 vehicles, a lobbying group for the domestic automotive industry said Tuesday. (Prime-Tass)

German carmaker Audi increased sales 80 percent to 636 cars through official dealers in Russia in the first quarter of this year, Interfax reported a company spokesman as saying. (MT)

The Syktyvkar timber plant's output in money terms rose 13 percent year on year to 2.247 billion rubles ($72 million) in January to March, the company's press service said Tuesday. (Prime-Tass)

Retail sales of alcohol and beer by volume rose 10.9 percent year on year to 18.5 million decaliters in January and February 2002, Interfax reported the State Statistics Committee as saying Tuesday. (MT)

Russia has begun another round of negotiations on World Trade Organization membership in Geneva, Interfax reported Tuesday. (MT)