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Russia has lifted the ban on the transit of EU fresh products. What impact will the decision have on the European logistics industry? What products are allowed for transportation via Russia? What requirements should the shippers meet to receive an approval? These questions have been discussed at the RailFreight Webinar took place on 19 July.
On 24 June the Russian government decided to lift the ban on transit traffic of the European products to the third countries, including China. The new legislation took an effect on 1 July. This measure was unexpectable for both European and Chinese companies. Three weeks have gone but the decision still causes more questions than answers. Therefore, RailFreight organised a webinar dedicated to the lifted ban. Four experts participated in it:
“Almost 100 per cent of traffic from Europe to China go by rail via Russia,” Ton van den Hanenberg noted. According to him, the lift of the ban on transit traffic from EU countries will be an opportunity both for European shippers as well as for Russia. The latter will be able to increase the freight volumes being transported via its territory. The existing alternative routes are very complicated, therefore the main benefits will go to Russia as a transit country.
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Two other guests, Oscar Vermeij from New Silkway Logistics and Xinyao Zhang from GVT Intermodal, also positively appreciated the decision of the Russian government. “The lift of the Russian ban is a big advantage for us,” Oscar Vermeij from New Silkway Logistics said. His company operates the fleet of reefer containers. Thanks to the new option, it will be able to use them more intensively. Oscar Vermeij noted that New Silkway Logistics intends to double its volumes next year. Xinyao Zhang also mentioned the plans of her company to increase traffic to China. “Now, 20 per cent of our containers go back to China empty. This place is waiting for new products,” she specified.
In spite of big prospects and advantages, the lift of the ban has a lack of clarity. “I thought that more processes are going to be shaped from Europe to China. That was my first reaction. But the second reaction was how we are going to do it,” Xinyao Zhang told about her impression when she heard the news. The presidential decree approved on 24 June gave only some answers on her question.
The main requirement to transport transit goods via Russian territory is the obligatory use of electronic seals. These devices should be installed on containers in order to track the movement of cargo across the country. Last year, Russia has carried out several tests of the electronic seals on the trucks. Moreover, the draft legislation that will make the use of electronic seals obligatory for all transit goods is being discussed by the government. However, the legislation for electronic seals is still unsettled finally. This situation causes other questions: where the company can obtain a seal, who is able to provide them, etc. Therefore, Sebastian Bennink from Wladimiroff Lawyers advised the European logistics companies to specify the Russian partners for the practical conditions.
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Russian electronic seal, source: RT Invest.
List of products
The other important question is the list of products allowed for transit transportation. The decree of the Russian president just makes a reference to another document that imposed sanctions on EU food and provides a note that the products forbidden for import to Russia are available for transit. The document lists the following types of goods:
However, the document has a lot of amendments. Sebastian Bennink strongly recommended to check the specific product in accordance with the Russian classification before shipping.
The questions do not end here. The above list of products requires shippers to own or operate the fleet of reefer containers. Will they be able to obtain them in a short period of time – that is the question. Oscar Vermeij from New Silkway Logistics said that his company has already established a supply cold chain with temperature-controlled solutions.
At the same time, a big impact on EU transit via Russia could be caused by border bottlenecks. Oscar Vermeij noted that the congestions on the border are not a problem for New Silk Road because it includes several routes with various options to carry goods. “There is no only one traditional route. There are many routes. I think there is still enough capacity to be filled with new volumes. Kaliningrad could be also a solution. There are many options,” he summed up.
This article first appeared on www.railfreight.com
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