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Customs Controversy of Origin

29 June 2011, 14:57 / SeaNews / Rating: 11971

Today the Russian customs took over sanitary, quarantine, and phitosanitary control functions from the respective state agencies. The customs was entrusted with controlling documents on the border, leaving physical check-ups, in case these are required, to the sanitary, quarantine, and phitosanitary officers.

Now the customs requires sanitary, quarantine and phitosanitary certificates from carriers and their representatives. The problem is, they cannot present either copies or originals of these documents, as certificates are held by cargo owners only.

Previously, only numbers of the certificates were provided to sanitary, quarantine and phitosanitary control officers, who checked them up in their database. It appears that the customs does not have access to this database.

In the South, lines have not faced the problem yet. But in the North-West, ships carrying cargo subject to sanitary, quarantine and phitosanitary control are already at the port waiting for getting cleared, but there seem to be no instructions how to do it.

As per SeaNews’ information, a letter signed by a deputy Chief of the Baltic Customs instructs customs officers to demand original certificates for cargo subject to sanitary, quarantine and phitosanitary control. At the same time, the Chief of the Baltic Customs is reported to have stated that ‘operations will continue as usually’ at a recent meeting in St. Petersburg port.

Today, customs officers at checkpoints in the Big Port of St. Petersburg failed to explain to SeaNews how sanitary, quarantine and phitosanitary cargo should now be cleared. They could not say whether certificate numbers or certificates themselves were necessary, and finally suggested ‘you come with the documents and discuss it with the boss’.

Some lines, foreseeing problems with clearance, suspended loading sanitary, quarantine and phitosanitary cargo for St. Petersburg. Others, which took a risk, are now facing another risk of having to carry such cargo back. Market players are seriously concerned about a possibility of congestion at European hubs with goods designated for Russia. According to the customs, this type of cargo constitutes some 20% of the entire traffic.

Maybe, from a Russian consumer’s viewpoint, it is not so bad – why carry to Russia products which are below European standards?

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