Medvedev stops wine imports

European leaders should point Medvedev better

We live in interesting times, when the Russian wine market is just being formed. Surprisingly, in contrast to the civilized wine markets the wine market in Russia is much more affected not by demand, economic situation, the efforts of winemakers or even the power of major importers (who would have thought!). In Russia the wine market is influenced by the foolishness of the officials.

We’ve seen this in 2006, when wine disappeared from the shelves as a result of the actions of a human being called Onishchenko. The month of August is a month when everyone is expecting political and economic upheavals, it seems that January will soon have a very bad reputation for the wine market. Importers had good New Year sales – enough! I am rocking my brain to comprehend Mr. Medvedev when he declares a war on alcoholism and the war affects everyone except the enemies who would be, for example, vodka producers and importers.

January the 11th has become another «Black Monday» — dozens of trucks with wine are stopped on the Russian border. And the reason for that is not brainless bureaucracy; it’s rather a Customs Union of Russia with Belarus and Kazakhstan. As it turns out from now on the importers of wines should arrange imports in quite a different way. RBC-Daily explains the way it should be: «Within the framework of a Customs Union on its territory there’s now a list of goods subject to prohibitions or restrictions on imports from the third countries (except the countries – members of the Union). These products must pass a licensing process. The web-site of the Federal Taxation Service reported on the 29th of December that a single list of goods will come into effect starting the 1st of January 2010. Still, vodka, tequila, and some other spirits imports fall out of this new rule”.

I have heard that only fools make the same mistake twice. I don’t want to repeat what others have written about the necessary documents and the nature of those new rules. The situation in 2006 is repeated with high precision: of course, the agency issuing those new licenses is not ready for this (they haven’t yet woken up after the Big Russian Holidays). Not only they aren’t ready, but we can foresee they won’t be in the coming several days, more likely — weeks. As Maxim Kashirin (Simple) puts: « Minpromtorg should issue those licenses, but currently has no idea how to do that”. Media sources claim that a one day car delay costs about 250-300 euros, but it seems to me that media is hugely mistaken, 2500-3000 euros seem a more realistic figure given the missed earnings. Total losses of the wine importers may again reach tens of millions of dollars, as we already have seen in 2006. I am not taking into account that this money will miss the State budgets as taxes, wine drinkers  won’t receive their wine, representatives of government and businesses will again fray each other’s nerves. But someone is about to win, for sure. Somebody will gain political points, somebody will use this fact as an excuse to declare that the country began to drink less.

The other obvious winners are vodka importers. Again, gives a lot to think about. If the importer sagaciously stocked with wine just before the New Year — lucky you! And what about the country? The country should know its “heroes”.

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