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Russian government spurs work on unified e-commerce control in Customs Union

February 14, 2014, 20:37 UTC+3 14
Earlier, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said the Finance Ministry would prepare a draft decision to regulate online shopping taking into account the Customs Union position
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© AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko

MOSCOW, February 14. /ITAR-TASS/. Unified regulations for online shopping in foreign stores within the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan (CU) could be adopted but only after Russia introduces new standards on the national level, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Shatalov told journalists on Friday.

“We will have a unified solution with time, but it should appear on the national level first,” he said. “It means that we will reduce the tax-exempt purchase level to 150 euro and then we will hold talks in the Customs Union.”

Shatalov added there were no plans to lower or to differentiate the current 30 percent customs duty on imported goods exceeding the limit.

Earlier, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said the Finance Ministry would prepare a draft decision to regulate online shopping taking into account the Customs Union position.

“The issue has been discussed in the government,” he said. “We have agreed on the main ideas. The only thing I can say is that specific proposals for terms will now be prepared in the Finance Ministry taking into account the discussion results. But an important component is holding negotiations on these terms with our partners from the Customs Union.”

At the end of January, Russia’s Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said reducing the level of tax-exempt Internet purchases to €150 was a consensus proposal, which would hardly change.

The government is currently developing measures for more rigorous control on Internet transactions. Today, Russian customers can receive an order from a foreign country worth up to 1,000 euro tax-free. The Federal Customs Service proposed initially to lower the level of tax-exempt Internet purchases to €200.

At the end of 2013, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov suggested reducing the level from €1,000 to €150.

The Ministry of Economic Development also supported limits but considered 150 euros too low. Deputy head Alexey Likhachev said duty-free purchases for Russian citizens should be limited to “several hundred euros”.

It also opposed lowering the current 30% customs duty on imported goods exceeding the limit and suggested harmonizing these restrictions in all countries of the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan to avoid illegal trade flows.

In January, the Head of the Federal Customs Service Andrei Belyaninov told journalists that online shopping limits remained under discussion. Besides lowering the duty-free purchase level to €150, it was proposed to limit the weight of imported goods to 10 kilograms and the possibility of effecting such transactions no more than once a month.

At the end of last week, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich told Itar-Tass Russia’s government would consolidate its position on tougher control of online shopping in foreign stores, bringing in tighter tax rules.

“We have been ordered to discuss the issue within the government until February 11,” he said. “Then we will make some sort of a roundup.”

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