Since spring of 2022, the Russian businessmen have gained more freedom in the field of import: the government allowed importing some goods without foreign owners’ consent. The list of those goods was approved by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.
Let us understand how import to Russia is regulated now and what businessmen who will decide to import goods in the parallel mode need to remember.
WHAT IS PARALLEL IMPORT?
It is import of goods to the country without the owner’s permission. It is so called because it gives the chance to deliver goods through authorized dealers in parallel with official import which was the only legal way until recently.
WHAT DOES THE LEGALIZATION OF PARALLEL IMPORT FOR BUSINESS MEAN?
Till May, 2022 the government forbade importing goods without the permission of their owners, and foreign producers used to limit the list of legal importers, sometimes to one or two companies.
Now, for a number of products, the right to import ceases to be the privilege of only selected trademark holders.
Now it is possible to officially import goods to Russia not only through authorized dealers, but also through other foreign suppliers.
However, note that parallel import is not counterfeit: businesses are entitled to work only with original production which they receive through alternative supply channels.
WHAT GOODS HAVE BEEN ALLOWED TO IMPORT?
I must say right away that not each and every product can be imported this way. The government legalized parallel imports only for a strictly defined list of original goods.
The entire list is set out in Decree of the Government of Russia dated March 29, 2022 No. 506.
The list contains a wide range of products of different categories. For some with clarification of specific brands, for others without it.
According to the Russian government, the import of overseas goods will help to provide the domestic market with demanded goods and will allow to stabilize prices for them.
One of the principles by which goods fall under parallel imports is the cessation of supplies to the Russian market, the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation said.
At the same time, I want to note that the goods of foreign brands that are manufactured in Russia at localized enterprises were not included in the list - the Federal Antimonopoly Service advocated such a clause.
WHY HAD PARALLEL IMPORT NOT BEEN ALLOWED IN RUSSIA BEFORE?
The Russian Civil Code still retains the national principle of exhaustion of rights to trademarks, patents and other intellectual property.
This means that the right holder can control the supply of goods up to the first sale of the goods in the country.
Disputes about changing this principle to an international one, which allows parallel imports, had been going on for more than 10 years.
The Federal Antimonopoly Service actively fought for the ban being lifted, but could not carry its point, since such a way has its own disadvantages.
On the one hand, parallel imports promote competition and drive down prices.
On the other hand, right holders lose full control over imported goods, which means that the risk of counterfeiting grows. In some areas, such as medicines and medical equipment, it is especially important to avoid such risks.
WHAT ARE ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF PARALLEL IMPORT?
Its advantages are:
• Competition development;
• Favorable conditions for price reduction;
• No shortage of goods.
Obvious downsides are:
• Reduced control by the foreign copyright holder;
• Increased risk of importing counterfeit goods;
• No official service centers.
WHAT ELSE DO FOREIGN EXPORTERS NEED TO KNOW WHEN IMPORTING GOODS TO RUSSIA THROUGH PARALLEL IMPORTS?
1. The Russian government does not allow the import of any goods: when planning business, you need to check with the list of the Ministry.
2. All customs and control procedures must be observed. Be sure that the import of these goods is not prohibited, and to have some documents issued, including:
✔ packing list indicating the weight of the goods and packages,
3. According to the Russian Law on the Consumer Rights Protection, the seller or manufacturer of the goods is obliged to provide the possibility of repair under warranty. If there is no representative office of the manufacturer in the country, repair shall be arranged by the importer.
If you have any questions about importing goods to Russia, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance:
Tel: +7 909 961-19-09
Visit us: Moscow, Zubovskiy bulvar, building 4/1, office 308