SIMFEROPOL, March 26. /ITAR-TASS/. Andrei Belyaninov, the head of the Russian Federal Customs Service, said on Wednesday that the geography of Russia’s foreign trade could change thanks to Crimean ports.
“I am sure that Russia will have new partners because it has obtained a great number of ports together with Crimea’s incorporation. They include two deep-water ports like Sevastopol and Yevpatoriya,” Belyaninov said in an interview with Itar-Tass and CrimeaInform news agencies after his visit to the Crimean peninsula.
Belyaninov said the trade with Russia accounted for a huge share in Crimea’s foreign trade. Those figures automatically fell out of Crimea’s foreign trade statistics after the peninsula’s incorporation into Russia.
The Federal Customs Service chief noted a temporary decline in Crimea’s trade with other foreign partners who were watching how the political situation was unfolding on the peninsula.
“It is absolutely clear that Crimea is Russian and will remain such forever. So the question when trade is going to reach its former volumes is just a matter of time,” Belyaninov said.
He found it hard to say what trade volumes could go through the Crimean customs in a short-term perspective.
“I cannot give you any concrete figures. The situation is changing daily like a kaleidoscope. Let us wait for a month before we draw any approximate forecasts,” Belyaninov went on to say. He has no doubt that the Crimean customs would at least be self-supporting.
“It will certainly bring revenues to the budget. The question is how large they are going to be and when that’s going to happen?” Belyaninov said in conclusion.
“It is hard to forecast anything in conditions when sometimes diametrically opposite decisions are made within a day or two,” Belyaninov said.
“I don’t think the situation will be better with such an approach,” he said, adding that relations between Russia and Ukraine should normalize for trade turnover to stabilize.
“And when visas are imposed today and canceled tomorrow, and then restrictions are imposed on imports and exports of some goods, this cannot be positive for our trade turnover,” Belyaninov said.
“The penetration of one economy into the other is too great. And all these ‘abrupt movements’ are not very much beneficial for the two countries’ economies,” he said.
Crimea signed a treaty with Russia to become its constituent member on March 18 after a referendum two days earlier in which most Crimeans voted to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. The developments followed a coup in Ukraine in February that brought to power new authorities that Russia does not recognize.
In the meantime, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov has said that prices in Crimea will be comparable to prices in Russia’s southern regions.
“We expect the trade to speed up,” Siluanov said in an interview with the Russia 24 TV news channel on Wednesday.
He explained that prices in Crimea would be the same as in Russia’s southern regions. The minister said it was necessary to re-orient the Crimean economy from Ukraine to Russia and re-direct trade flows from Russia to Crimea.
“The most important thing is to develop trade and trade exchanges between Crimea and other parts of Russia,” Siluanov stressed.