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Government Extendeds Customs Duty to Combat Foreign Advantage

Published: June 20, 2014 (Issue # 1816)



  • A staff member leaving a customs control zone.
    Photo: A. Makhonin / Vedomosti

The Finance Ministry on Friday published a draft of a long-awaited bill that could lower the limit on the value of personal purchases that can enter Russia customs-free from 1,000 euros ($1360) to 150 euros ($204).

Russia-based Internet retailers have long complained that the current threshold gives foreign retailers an unfair advantage, allowing them to slash prices below those offered by domestic retailers, who have to pay taxes and customs duties on the goods they import to Russia.

At President Vladimir Putin's meeting with Internet businesses in early June, Maelle Gavet, CEO of Internet giant Ozon, said that Russia was losing 98 billion rubles a year ($2.8 billion) due to poor regulation of goods sold over the Internet by foreign e-commerce companies.

"In the rest of the world, the threshold value [for customs duties] is from 0 to 10 euros ($14)," Gavet said, RIA Novosti reported. "Law-abiding Russian stores, unlike their foreign colleagues, pay the legally necessary taxes and duties. Because of this it is becoming more and more difficult to compete on prices."

Putin responded that all companies who import goods across the border should face "identical conditions." The president signed a law in May that gave the government the right to change the parameters for customs-free imports.

The customs duty has become a hot topic in the e-commerce industry as cross-border trade expands its share of the market at a lightening rate. Cross-border trade more than doubled in 2014, reaching 20 percent of the total volume of e-commerce in Russia, while the market as a whole continued to grow at a rate of about 30 percent yearly, according to the Association of Online Vendors, or AKIT.

AKIT, whose members include such heavy-hitting online retailers as Ulmart, KupiVIP and Lamoda, has repeatedly complained that the current situation encourages domestic retailers to evade taxes and customs duties in order to offer competitively low prices.

In addition to the new 150-euro limit, the Finance Ministry's bill, which was published Friday on the government's legislation portal, requires a customs duty on all goods that weigh in at more than 10 kilograms, down from the current limit of 31 kilograms. The customs duty in Russia stands at 30 percent of the value of the imported good.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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