The ALROSA company of Russia and De Beers international corporation signed on Monday a new trade agreement in Yakutsk, the administrative centre of the eastern Russian Republic of Yakutia/Sakha. Head of ALROSA Vyacheslav Shtyrov and chairman of De Beers company Nicholas Oppenheimer put their signatures under the document. The agreement is for five years and will come into effect after the expiry of the current agreement the term of which ends on December 31, 2001. The government of Russia was represented at the ceremony by Vice-Premier and Minister of Finance Alexei Kudrin. According to him, the agreement which does not provide for participation of the state in it as a shareholder is "a move to liberalise sale of diamonds". In particular, the volume of the compulsory sale of Russian diamonds to De Beers is reduced while the volume of their sale on the domestic market simultaneously increases. Alexei Kudrin deems such a tendency to be correct because it is necessary for Russia to develop its own diamond-cutting industry. Besides, as Kudrin stressed, the agreement will make it possible to ensure in the future, too, stability of incomes from the sale of diamonds which will not depend on the market situation. The signed agreement is important also for stable financing of social expenditures and for ensuring the company's resources for further development of production, the Vice-Premier believes.