Gray imports to Russia have been legalized: Turkey and Kazakhstan will be the “gaskets”

This will replace the products of fugitive brands

Mikhail Mishustin announced the legalization of parallel imports in Russia: this will allow the import of sanctioned products from European countries without the permission of the rights holders. “Such an approach will guarantee the supply of goods to our country, including in spite of unfriendly actions of foreign politicians,” said the Prime Minister. The government emphasizes that parallel imports involve the supply of exclusively branded products, simply purchased elsewhere under a “different scheme.” However, in fact, the risks of running into a counterfeit instead of the original will increase greatly.

The Russian government is evasive about Russia’s commodity losses after the start of a special military operation in Ukraine and the ensuing sanctions. The head of the Ministry of Energy Maxim Reshetnikov recently called the reduction of imports “significant”, but asked journalists not to insist on specific figures – the results have not yet been summed up. However, it is clear to everyone that the shelves and warehouses are slowly becoming empty. And the estimates of independent experts are disappointing: according to FourKites, which monitors global traffic, the volume of imports to Russia on all modes of transport by the previous week of February 24 decreased by 59%. (Delivery of goods for industry fell by 61%, consumer goods – by 56%.) Nothing good is expected – leaving the country have already announced popular clothing and footwear brands, manufacturers of alcohol, household appliances, cars, and the number of “refugees” each the day is increasing.

The Russian authorities immediately stated that the main means of combating the deficit will be import substitution and the search for alternative suppliers. But it is impossible to solve any of the set tasks quickly, and the Russians need the usual goods on the shelves now. Therefore, the logical way out of this situation was the legalization of parallel, or, as they say, “gray” imports. At a meeting of the operational headquarters for increasing the resilience of the economy in the face of sanctions, Mikhail Mishustin said that the decree allowing the import of goods without the permission of the copyright holder has already been signed. “The purpose of this mechanism is to meet the demand for goods that contain the results of intellectual activity,” he said. To date, such actions of suppliers were considered undesirable: the infringer had to destroy the entire imported consignment and pay the right holder compensation in the amount of 100 thousand. up to 5 million rubles. But Mishustin cited a law that gave the government the right to apply the principle of “exhaustion of trademark rights” if the product is sold by the owner “in any part of the world.” He explained that the use of such an approach will bypass the decisions of politicians of “unfriendly countries” and guarantee the supply to the country of goods demanded by Russians. According to the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Industry and Trade will determine which ones. The agency has already started collecting proposals from line ministries monitoring the situation in industry and the consumer market. It can be assumed that the priorities will include medicines, auto parts, household appliances, electronics and goods for children.

In principle, there is nothing new in the legalization of parallel imports, but the associations, frankly, are not the most inspiring. The Soviet Union, for example, bought various products through front companies located in neutral countries, particularly Finland. And in the 90’s “everything you need” brought to the country all sorts of shuttles and gas companies. According to experts, it will not be difficult for suppliers or consumers to return to the forgotten schemes. Of course, Finland is disappearing in the current situation. But Turkey and part of Kazakhstan may well become new hubs (or, simply put, transshipment points) for “reloading” of sanctioned and scarce goods. Of course, with great benefit for yourself. But Russia has nowhere to go.

The FAS, which has been seeking to legalize the parallel import of spare parts for mechanical engineering for several years, has already stated that it is a matter of supplying exclusively original products. According to officials, the original spare part for Japanese or European cars purchased in Turkey or Kazakhstan is similar to the one supplied by automakers and their official dealers, and technical support and warranty service for customers will remain the same. However, common sense (not to mention previous rich experience) suggests that these statements should not be completely trusted. The risk of importing counterfeit increases at least because without the representation of the brand in Russia to prove the origin of products supplied under its trademark is impossible. And if so, then why buy an expensive original, if you can do with a cheaper counterfeit? Especially since the costs of such complex schemes as parallel imports are high, and the main goal of any business is to earn more. In addition, it is not entirely clear who will issue the promised FAS guarantee for the repair and maintenance of imported home appliances and other complex products through alternative channels and fulfill obligations to consumers.

Published in the newspaper “Moscow Komsomolets” №28754 dated March 31, 2022

Newspaper headline:
Imports will be parallel


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