Russian trade ban to cost Chinese jobs
By Jiang Wei (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-13 08:47
Thousands of Chinese retailers in Russia are likely to lose their jobs as Russia plans to ban foreigners from trading in the country's markets.
The Russian authorities say that the measures, which will come into effect on January 1, are aimed at cracking down on criminal activity in markets and encouraging Russians to take up jobs in the retail sector.
As a result of the measures, foreigners will no longer be allowed to sell alcohol or medicines in Russia from January 1. In addition, a 40 per cent limit will be placed on the number of foreign nationals doing business in any given market.
From April 1, foreigners will be banned from trading in the country's markets.
Chinese officials working in Russia say that although the new regulation will cause thousands of Chinese stallholders to lose their jobs, immigrants from former Soviet republics such as Georgia, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan actually account for the lion's share of foreign market traders in Russia.
"We are looking for ways to deal with it while closely monitoring the situation," said Jiang Zhongxing, an official from Hebei Province's office in Russia.
Traders from North China's Hebei Province mainly sell clothing in Russia.
Some Chinese retailers plan to find a local partner to continue their business, while some intend to register local companies, Jiang said.
He also suggested that some of them could go to other overseas markets where such restrictions do not exist.
Around 1 million Chinese people currently work in Russia, where Chinese-made products have become increasingly popular in recent years.
The new measures have been condemned as discriminatory and ill conceived in Russia.
Russia's human rights ombudsman, Vladimir Lukin, said the government's decision to ban foreigners from trading at markets is "dubious" and unconstitutional.
Although Russia is on the way to joining the World Trade Organization, its trade laws and regulations sometimes create obstacles for foreign players.
Russian police confiscated a shipment of shoes, worth some US$10 million, from a group of business people from East China's Zhejiang Province last year, claiming that the shoes had failed to pass through Russia's official customs.
So-called "grey clearance," is a one-stop clearance service provided by local Russian business people. It is prevalent in Russia because legal clearance procedures for a single import deal can take several months.