MOSCOW - Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov has signed a regulation making life easier for Russian shuttle traders.
The amount of goods a person can bring into Russia duty-free was increased to an equivalent of 65,000 rubles ($2,200) starting from Jan. 1, 2004, compared with $1,000 at present, while the weight maximum remains the same — 50 kilograms. According to Kommersant, the State Customs Committee’s scheme to liberalize private imports was thus being backed. The Economic Development and Trade Ministry, on the other hand, wants to toughen conditions for small-scale importers, limiting the total worth of goods that can be brought in duty-free to $500.
Every year, according to ministry estimates, shuttle traders import goods worth more than $10 billion, and we can expect this figure to double in the coming year. "What do we have custom tariffs for, if 70-80 percent of clothes and footwear are imported by private persons supposedly for their own needs?", the head of the Economic Development and Trade Ministry’s Tariffs Department, Andrei Kushnirenko, said. This business has no future and must be substituted by more civilized forms, and the ministry will continue its attempts to achieve this, he added.
And while the Economic Development and Trade Ministry is trying to crack down on shuttle traders, Izvestia reports, the citizens of Bagrationovsk, a town near the Chinese border, are building a monument commemorating the profession, which has helped them to survive hard times. The statue of unclear gender, loaded with bags, is to symbolize a whole period in the life of Russia.