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Moscow paralyses Ukrainian exports

August 15, 2013, 11:08 UTC+3

Ukrainian politicians regard the Federal Customs Service decision as exclusively political: in their view, Russia is punishing its neighbors for European integration

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Since Wednesday, trade wars between Russian and Ukraine have grown into a trade blockade. Starting from August 14, all operations with Ukrainian imports are called “risky.” The Federal Customs Service (FCS) does not control such measures in any way. And both countries’ experts say that the Russian authorities’ desire to force Ukraine to join the Customs Union is the reason for this.

Russia has placed in the risk group all Ukrainian exporters, the Komsomolskaya Pradva newspaper writes. There is a document called “All-Russian Risk Profile.” It lists the companies that earlier had attempted to deceive customs officers. The customers must check goods from such enterprises particularly meticulously. Until the past midnight there were 46 Ukrainian suppliers in the list. But at 00:00 on Wednesday the wording “all enterprises of Ukraine” replaced the list of specific companies.

“At 00:00 on August 14 all Ukrainian exporters without exception were added to the first 40 enterprises on the risk profile list of the risk management system of the RF Federal Customs Service that were entered there this July,” the Kommersant daily quotes a statement issued by the Confederation of Employers of Ukraine (CEU) that represents the interests of 8.5 thousand enterprises that produce 70% of Ukraine’s GDP.

The CEU forecasts in its statement that the decision of the Russian customs means a “full stop to Ukrainian exports for an indefinite time, up to weeks or even months.” The CEU specified that the Russian customs subjects Ukrainian cargoes to total inspection, including their unloading, trans-loading and loading back to transport vehicles.

According to forecasts, writes the Kommersant daily, in the second half of the year goods worth $8.5 billion were to be imported by Russia from Ukraine. Breakdown of part of contracts, rising costs and transactions’ delay may cut this figure by $2-2.5 billion.

The step of the FCS, that could hardly make this decision independently without consulting the Kremlin and the Russian government and without getting direct instructions from superior authorities, is assessed by experts as the beginning of a trade war.

Ukrainian politicians regard the FCS decision as exclusively political - in their view, Russia is thus punishing the neighbors for European integration and thereby “invites” them to join the Customs Union. “Russia’s actions are rather political than economic,” President of the Ukrainian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs Anatoly Kinakh stated.

Ukrainian-Russian local trade wars have entered a new level - a trade blockade, the Nezavisimaya Gazeta newspaper writes in this connection.

“The problem has affected some 50 Ukrainian large and export-oriented enterprises. It’s a serious blow, but this is not to say that it was delivered without warning: Russia has long warned us and explained with what Ukraine’s European integration will end - with closed borders and trade barriers set by the Customs Union. This has begun to happen now,” economist of the Kiev-based Centre for Political Research and Conflict Resolution Alexander Koshik told the Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily.

RBC Daily writes that the total inspections at border checkpoints are a response to Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich’s decision to begin rapprochement with the European Union. “Kiev has opted for European integration, which has displeased Moscow,” the newspaper quotes Director of the Centre for Political Research and Conflict Resolution Mikhail Pogrebinsky. “Knowing Yanukovich’s nature, I’m sure that he won’t refuse from the signing of the agreements with the EU.”

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