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    RUSSIA TO DRAFT NEW COMPETITION BILL BY LATE 2004

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    MOSCOW, FEBRUARY 14, 2004, /RIA-NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENT ANDREI NIZAMUTDINOV/ -- Russia is to draft a new competition bill before the year is out, the country's Minister for Anti-Trust Policy and Small Business Support Ilya Yuzhanov said here today.

    Yuzhanov attended a global competition forum at OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) headquarters in the French capital.

    The present-day competition law was enacted in March 1991; basic anti-trust legislation principles remain unchanged; however, this law has become obsolete by 14 years, Yuzhanov noted. Russian economic realities have changed drastically since 1991; it's therefore high time to modify competition legislation's conceptual aspects, Yuzhanov stressed.

    According to Yuzhanov, the switch-over from authorizing to notifying corporate merger, takeover and incorporation procedures ranks among such aspects.

    We'll therefore have to change the style of our work, watching economic implications of specific deals more closely; quite possibly, this approach is more difficult, albeit more economically expedient, Yuzhanov went on to say.

    Plans are in place to increase authorized-capital threshold values 150-fold, that is, from $600,000 to $100 million. All deals below these threshold values won't be checked by the Anti-Trust Policy Ministry.

    Moreover, the new bill would apparently omit the monopolist-enterprise register concept, Yuzhanov noted.

    In his words, the new bill's huge section will be dealing with state aid, thus formalizing Russia's commitments as regards its partnership with the European Union.

    State aid shall be subdivided into forbidden, authorized and conditional authorized aid, as is the case all over the world, Yuzhanov explained. Meanwhile the latter state-aid category shall be declared authorized, after we analyze each particular case accordingly, he stressed. This is a highly important aspect because many current national anti-dumping investigations with regard to Russian business operations can be explained precisely by lack of such a law, Yuzhanov said.

    This is an essential element of our normal cooperation with Europe, as well as our projected World Trade Organization membership, Yuzhanov said in conclusion.

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