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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Business in Brief

Cash Tide Turning?

ST. PETERSBURG (Prime-Tass) -- Banks imported more cash than they sent abroad by $300 million in March-April this year, with individuals exporting about $1 billion, Central Bank Chairman Sergei Ignatyev said Thursday at a banking conference in St. Petersburg.

Last year, banks' cash imports were higher than cash exports by $1 billion each month. But individuals sent about $1 billion in cash abroad, counterbalancing the inflow.

"The dollar supply is decreasing and we are seeing the role of the U.S. dollar in the economy diminish," Ignatyev said.

Trade Surplus Soars

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- The foreign trade surplus soared 38 percent to $24 billion in the first four months of 2003, year on year, as crude oil exports to Western countries rose 9 percent, the State Customs Committee said Thursday.

The country's robust foreign trade balance, which stood at $18.6 billion in the first quarter of 2003, has helped the Central Bank to build record-high foreign currency reserves, boding well for the country's creditworthiness.

"The foreign trade balance was positive and stood at $24 billion [in the January-April period of 2003] compared with $17.4 billion in the corresponding period of 2002," the committee said in a statement.

Back to Iraq Business

MOSCOW (MT) -- A group of Russian businessmen traveled to Baghdad on Wednesday to establish business contacts, Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko was quoted by the RosBusinessConsulting news agency as saying Thursday.

Also, diplomats have returned to the Russian Embassy in Baghdad after having left during the military operation there.

"The basis for re-establishing cooperation between Russian entrepreneurs and Iraqi businesses is stipulated in the UN's decisions and in the agreements achieved in St. Petersburg and Evian," Yakovenko said.

U.S. Poultry Checkups

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Veterinarians will complete inspections of U.S. poultry farms this week, an Agriculture Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

The inspections should confirm the plants' compliance with new veterinary standards, agreed by Russia and the United States last year.

Altogether, 345 U.S. poultry facilities have been inspected. The initial deadline for completing the inspections was June 1, but was later extended.

Under the quotas, which went into effect in April and cap imports at 774,000 metric tons per year, the United States will be able to supply 553,500 tons, or over 70 percent of the total quota amount.

Prior to the quotas, Russia in 2002 imported 1.4 million tons of poultry. On average, the United States has exported around 1 million tons of poultry to Russia per year.

Subsistence Pensions

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- An average monthly pension in Russia will exceed the monthly subsistence level for pensioners in 2004-06, according to Economic Development and Trade Ministry materials prepared for Thursday's government meeting.

Next year the average monthly pension is projected at 1,931 rubles ($63), while the subsistence level for pensioners is expected to be 1,900 rubles.

EBRD to Bolster Banks

ST. PETERSBURG (Reuters) -- The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is ready to invest $350 million in the country's financial sector, a senior EBRD official said Thursday.

Kurt Geiger, EBRD business group director responsible for financial institutions, said the best way to restore confidence was through transparency, which local banks and companies often lack.

He said the EBRD was ready to invest up to $50 million in equity in various intermediaries and lend some $300 million to local banks to finance the private enterprise sector, mortgages and leasing.

Bank lending in Russia is only half the average level in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland.

St. Pete to Tokyo Flights

MOSCOW (Prime-Tass) -- Aeroflot plans to start regular direct flights on Airbus-310s from St. Petersburg to the Japanese cities of Tokyo and Osaka on Saturday, the company said Thursday.

The press service did not say how often the flights will run.

Zenit Eurobond

MOSCOW (Reuters) -- Zenit bank, majority owned by Tatneft, will issue a $100 million to $125 million eurobond in Europe either late Thursday or on Friday, a source at the bank said.

"I cannot assure you that it will happen today, maybe today [Thursday] or maybe tomorrow. We expect it not later than tomorrow," the source said.

Prime-Tass previously said the bond would carry an annual coupon of 9.0 percent to 9.5 percent.