|Address of Tatiana Golendeeva, Deputy Head of the Federal Customs Service, at the meeting with manufacturers of cellular phones held on September 21rst, 2005.|
Recently, setting up meetings with producers of goods, and with producers of household appliances in particular, has become quite customary for the Federal Customs Service (FCS) of Russia, and we believe that such meetings are of great importance. We hope that the meetings, together with our mutual contacts and discussion of problems we are facing may prove useful in finding the solutions to such problems.
Not so long ago we held a large-scale meeting with the producers of household appliances; and today we are meeting with the manufacturers of cellular phones. I wish to reiterate that this meeting is especially important for us in the light of recent events at the Sheremetyevo customs office. During discussions of this situation, I noticed that emphasis was laid on wrong aspects and that is why I thought it would be appropriate to have representatives of the mass media present at our meeting. I am sure that our interests will coincide with a correct interpretation of what is going on. It is essential to move forward as we build up our approaches and interests in terms of reliable declaration of cellular phones under their proper description, taking into account types, article numbers, parameters and technical indices of real value for customs purposes. Unfortunately, recent events at the Sheremetyevo customs office have shown that the system of importing cellular phones is unsatisfactory. The purpose of today’s meeting, as I see it, is not to analyze the cause of the meeting but to determine definite efficient and radical steps to improve the particular import segment to the state of civilized and normal operation, proper customs control and customs clearance.
According to information received from RATEK (Association of Trading Companies and Manufacturers of Consumer Electronic and Computer Equipment), the worst situation in terms of reliable declaration of goods is with small size equipment such as notebooks, film cameras, photo cameras and cellular phones. A representative of RATEK said that the difference between the actual import of cellular phones and their real procedures of customs clearance is tenfold. It cannot go on like this. That is why in the framework of these activities we should take steps to put things right. What is meant here is both the quantity of imported cellular phones and the declaration of these goods, based on their performance data, which affects the declared customs value. As of today we may refer to one of the precedents, the importation of “Nokia” phones, which we consider to be a positive development, worth reporting to German Gref, Minister of Economic Development and Trade, as the first positive example of puting things right in this niche of the market. We do hope that the situation will develop further and encompass the other brands of cellular phones whose representatives are present here today. Once again I would like to reiterate what we discussed in the last meeting with representatives of household appliances manufacturers: we are very hopeful that our contact with you may significantly improve the current situation with reliable declaration of imported telephones; we are counting on cooperation and mutual understanding in terms of the exchange of pricing information. This is especially important since the main task today is to control the customs value of goods not only by their traditional denominations, but also taking into account all their technical parameters and performance data which are, in fact, price-determining elements that influence the ultimate customs value of the goods declared. That is why we hope that you will provide us with authentic information which will then be handed over to our customs offices in charge of customs clearance. The availability of such information, irrespective of the fact that we control these goods on assortment level, will allow us not to increase the time required for customs control and customs clearance, but to shorten this time. As far as our leverage on that part of market which is regarded as adverse is concerned, you may take our word for it that as we have started to explore this topic, we are not going to give up. We have additional instruments of influence which allow us to carry out post-audits. I believe that in the near future the Customs Inspectorate is going to use its capabilities to the full extent. Let me explain: we have a right to come to any trading organization and request the invoices with the numbers of cargo customs declaration (GTD) according to which a particular telephone has been imported. Unfortunately, so far we have very seldom used this lever. Let me assure you now that the present situation cannot continue and that we are going to take resolute steps in future. We are going to work out an action plan in collaboration with law-enforcing authorities and tax authorities. We shall persist in finding a solution to this problem until we ultimately resolve it.
You know that the world community has acknowledged Russia as a country with a market economy. We all know that in many countries, the market economy has been developing for centuries, and that it has taken an equally long period of time for the rules of market economy to develop and to learn how to follow them. Russia is currently bringing its customs legislation into line with the international laws and standards. The new Customs Code of Russia has been in operation since January 2004; this Code is compliant with the international standards and has been declared in business as the Law promoting foreign trade, simplification and acceleration of customs procedures. By this time we have almost carried out a session of the subcommittee, and soon the Law on customs tariffs in part of control customs value will be motioned for a plenary session of the State Duma (lower chamber of the Russian parliament), which has been brought very close to the standards of Article 7 of the GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade). I mean to say that we have everything in order in terms of legislation. But in the opinion of the FCS, our legislation leaves behind the ways and traditions of our modern foreign trade business practice. Unfortunately, we can only state the fact the degree to which our business is law-abiding does not match the level of our current legislation, which is quite adequate to the present requirements. That is why the customs service is compelled to take the administrative measures you have recently witnessed. Of course we are trying to enhance such measures in such a way that they remain within the existing legislation. You may know that the theme of customs value as reflected in judicial practice is not in favor of customs authorities. This may be explained by a number of different factors. We are working hard in this sphere; we are training our inspectors to work very meticulously to defend the interests of the state. We are also working with the courts. At this point I would like to inform you that a plenary session of the Supreme Arbitration Court recently took place, which has supported the efforts of the customs service, and in material from the plenary session which was communicated by the Supreme Arbitration Court to its lower organizations, there are conclusions which entitle customs offices to reject the declared customs value by the first method based on the price of transaction, should there be material discrepancies between the information in possession of a customs authority and the information declared by a participant of foreign trade activity. Now it is obvious that in Russia documents are being forged subject to their handover to customs authorities for customs clearance, which explains why we are taking such measures now. In Russia the basis has been set up for implementation of the arrangements of market economy, and administrative and control authorities are ready to comply fully with market economy laws, but we also expect a similar attitude from businesses. We must meet each other halfway in order to avoid a situation where legislation exists on its own, while business works as it works. We are expected to mutually minimize the large-scale and material losses and expenses. The extent of contraband and unauthentic declaration of customs information is too great. That is why we are using administrative measures to abate such semi-lawful business practices. The purpose of this meeting is to inform the business community that we will not be satisfied with one-off actions. Our plan is to set up a division in charge of collecting pricing information, which will be independent of customs authorities.
1. Central Customs Directorate (CTU)
2. Siberian Customs Directorate (STU)
4. Southern Customs Directorate (JTU)
5. Privolzhsky Customs Directorate (PTU)
6. Urals Customs Directorate (UTU)
7. Far Eastern Customs Directorate (DVTU)
8. North Caucasus Customs Directorate (SKTU)