US, RUSSIAN FIGURES SHOW GROWING TRADE

US, RUSSIAN FIGURES SHOW GROWING TRADE

U.S. trade with Russia will climb about 25 percent this year as international trade begins to replace inefficient state industries as the source of many of the products sold in what was once the Soviet Union.

The U.S. Commerce Department's International Trade Administration said shipments to and from Russia during the first nine months of this year suggest that two-way trade will approach $4 billion, up from $3.2 billion during 1992.U.S. exports to Russia are expected to run nearly $2.5 billion, up from $2.1 billion in 1992. At the same time, U.S. imports from Russia are expected to climb to $1.5 billion, up from $1.1 billion last year.

Both 1993 figures are estimates based on trade volume during the first nine months of this year.

U.S. trade officials said their figures don't show how much trade moved across the Atlantic vs. the Pacific, but Far East economists at Khabarovsk branch of Russia's Institute of Economic Research said their figures show a clear trend toward more international trade in Russia's Pacific provinces.

Industrial production fell by as little as 10 percent in the Vladivostok region to as much as 28 percent on Sakhalin Island, but international trade in most of Russia's Pacific provinces ran at or above last year's levels, according to translations of the work in the Seattle-based Russian Far East Update.

Elisa Miller, publisher of the newsletter, said the figures not only show growing international trade, but show that more than half of that trade is being done between private companies, rather than by government-owned agencies.

"In 1988, only 3 percent of trade was by companies," she said. "Now it's 52 percent."

Consumer goods, food, machinery, building supplies and transportation equipment were the main products shipped to Russia. Exporters in Russia shipped out forest products, minerals and farm goods.

Growth in trade with the Russian Far East has been a major development in the Pacific Northwest, in part because of the extensive stands of timber available in the Russian Far East.

As environmental restrictions have reduced the supply of raw logs from the Northwest, U.S.-based exporters are studying the Russian Far East as an alternative source of supply for buyers in China and Japan.

ITT Rayonier, Seattle, one of the Northwest's largest forest products companies, last summer began brokering the sale of logs from the Russian Far East to buyers in China. The company plans to set up a permanent office in Khabarovsk, but executives said they will stick with arranging sale of the logs, rather than investment in land or mills in Russia.

Weyerhaeuser Co., Tacoma, Wash., another major Northwest timber company, said it is still seeking approval for a proposal to open a rebuilt lumber mill to supply logs and lumber to Japanese buyers. Weyerhaeuser has been negotiating for more than a year on a large-scale project to cut and replant large tracts of Russian forestland.