Economy Ministry forecasts Russia's GDP growth in 2003

According to 'The Forecast of Economic and Social Development of theRussian Federation in 2003 and Main Parameters throughout 2005' prepared bythe Economy Ministry for today's government meeting, Russia's grossdomestic product will surge by 3.5 percent in 2003, according to thepessimistic variant, or by 4.4 percent, according to the optimisticvariant. The first scenario envisages oil prices for Russian Urals oil at alevel of $18.5 per barrel (average contract price is $17 per barrel). Thesecond variant stipulates that the favorable dynamics of world oil priceswill continue between $21.5 and $22.5 per barrel of oil in the period from2003 to 2005. In 2004 the advance in the country's gross domestic productis expected to be from 4.3 percent to 5.5 percent, in 2005 from 4.6 percentto 5.9 percent.According to estimations of the Economy Ministry, Russia's GDP will gain3.8 percent in 2002, compared to the 2001 figure. The Ministry's reportstates that the preliminary GDP advance in the first half of 2002 was 3.8percent compared to the corresponding period of last year. This growth wasdue to an increase in industry production as well as in the agriculture andtrade industries production..