Transcript of the speech of TI Maksimov at the XIV Annual Conference of AEB “Customs and Business – 10 steps towards”.
Vladimir Ivanovich has already told about those fundamental changes that we have to go through. These are very ambitious plans, and we have formulated and put ourselves for ourselves. We received political support, but the most difficult part of reform is ahead – this is implementation, that is, the transition to actual actions. In this regard, we will be equally important support from the business community, since we believe that the proposed changes meet the interests of the state and the interests of honest business.
In customs legal relations there are two key players – customs and business. A lot depends on the quality of this interaction. It is important for us that the relations between customs and business are built in a constructive manner and mutual respect. To do this, it is necessary to build relationships on clear principles and follow them clearly. We have proclaimed two fundamental principles – equidistance and fairness. Equal distance means that we do not have foreign trade participants who have any special relations with the FCS of Russia, which help them in business. This is out of the question, we intend to ensure uniform rules of the game for all. Customs should not be a factor that influences or determines some competitive advantages of foreign trade participants. Customs, like the law enforcer, has broad powers, but we have consciously taken the path to ensure that we, by applying our legitimate powers, do not form a competitive environment. Business competes with business. Customs is not a party to this process. At the end of the year, the Presidential Decree on the development of competition was signed. We took it as the basis for execution. It clearly states that government agencies should exclude any impact on the formation of competitive conditions in the market. This does not mean that we are giving up our legitimate powers. We do not intend to use them for the benefit of any participants. The transition of all customs bodies to state areas is a step in this direction.
Equal accessibility. The second key principle means that we are open and ready to cooperate with any organizations, associations and representatives of business. This rule has an exception. We do not want to cooperate with outright violators, swindlers and unscrupulous organizations. At us for this purpose it is enough tools, allowing correctly to analyze and filter the data of the organization. It is important here that the clear formulation of these principles was supported by business in the form of the Charter of Conscientious Participants in Foreign Economic Activity (hereinafter – the Charter). This is a step on the part of the business to meet us. We, of course, welcomed the signing of this Charter. Now the process is started, new participants join. We hope that this initiative will be supported further.
What does the Charter mean? I would like to clarify the advantages of signing the Charter. We have prepared changes to the work of our Expert Advisory Council. We want to give honest participants of foreign economic activity who are our allies in promoting all proposed reforms, a really working and effective tool for solving emerging systemic problems. We want the faithful participants of foreign economic activity (who declare themselves to be honest) have the opportunity to come to us and in a constructive manner to discuss the emerging problems and develop proposals or solutions to these problems. We do not want them to look for ways to solve their problems in other formats, in other organizations or on the ground. We want this work to be conducted on a systematic basis on our site. We are ready, on our part, to ensure this constructive dialogue. Our Expert Advisory Council (EAC) should become a key platform for interaction between customs and business, where the systemic issues of interaction will be really solved. Moreover, it will be not only a tool for business, but also for customs. For my practice in customs, I was convinced that there are many situations when both customs and business are held hostage to the situation. In view of the fact that the existence of gaps in some specific sectoral legislation that does not allow for the quick and easy implementation of customs declaration of some complex goods, another branch ministry is responsible for the legislation. But, nevertheless, it still becomes a problem of customs and business. And such problems are not enough. I would like us to sit down together and work out solutions and proposals together, and, if necessary, go out to other levels, to other sites in conjunction with well-developed initiatives, and seek to remove these problems. Unfortunately, purely reputation, we suffer from this, and you, too. This is a very important point in the new format.
Separately, it must be said that real life is very dynamic. Constantly everything is changing, new commodity groups are emerging, new legal relations, which need to be adjusted. We hope that this tool will become a tool for tracking changes and developing best practices. The association includes companies that carry out foreign economic activities in different jurisdictions. For us, this is also a definite possibility. We would like to combine the best world practices that already exist in the new Expert Advisory Council. If there are problems, then, for sure, they have already encountered somewhere. We believe that this experience can and should be generalized in order to develop joint solutions. We hope in this to support you.
A few words about how the Expert Advisory Council will work. We agreed that it would be fairly compact. We will have 20 representatives of business circles. We divided them into 4 categories in order to give an opportunity to present all the key segments of this market. We will have exporters / importers, companies operating at various stages of the supply chain. There are those who directly do not deal with export-import operations, but provide services or any work in this area. We launched the procedure for signing the Charter. Today there will be another stage, the Association plans to sign a declaration. We already have more than 100 organizations that signed the Charter. We are waiting for the completion of the signing process until early April. After that, the business community, based on its internal arrangements, in which we are not going to invade, will identify representatives in these 4 areas in our Expert Advisory Council, and we will start working with them substantively. The algorithm will be as follows. We identified 5 key areas of work in the EAC, which, in our opinion, cover most of the emerging complex situations. Each direction will be supervised by the deputy head of the FCS of Russia in order to understand the level of decision-making and understand the possibility of attracting / conducting interdepartmental conciliation proceedings.
Separately, I will mark the position of categorization of participants in foreign trade activities. We offered Vladimir Ivanovich Bulavin, and he agreed that every six months we will convene the Council under his chairmanship to discuss the ideas of initiatives for categorization of participants in foreign trade. This is a very important topic for you and for us. We are ready to listen, you are ready to hear, and are ready to discuss different options. The algorithm is as follows. We have representatives from the business community who, for their part, generalize the existing problem issues, bring them to the EAS, where we work together with the business community in the formats of various working groups or commissions to work out the essence of the problem. We already have this practice. It was not formalized. Now we want to formalize it in order to make it understandable. After the proposal / generalization is formulated, there are two forks. If the question relates to law enforcement practice, we bring it to the meeting of the Presidium of the EAC under the chairmanship of the head, or we formulate the problem (what is it if there is a lack of uniformity in enforcement by customs authorities). If the question concerns changing the regulatory and legal regulation, then we can only raise our proposals to the level of either the Ministry of Finance, or the Government of Russia, or another federal executive body to formulate the question. At least, this proposal will be worked out at our level and agreed with all interested parties. This approach is more effective. This is a bottom-up approach, rather than a top-down approach, which is often practiced today when an organization / association, using its lobbying resources or opportunities, writes a paper to a big boss, and a resolution to work out, come to an agreement from top to bottom. We believe that it is better to work from the bottom up than from the top down, since the efficiency of such a process is much higher. After we have all worked it out, we raise it and together we try to solve a problem in which everyone is interested. The resulting synergy should give more results.
Yesterday we prepared proposals, reported them to the head, he conceptually supported us. Of course, we will wait for initiatives from the business community, but we agreed that at least two working sections we need to create. One is related to customs value. The problem is well known to everyone, many have tried to approach it from different angles, but there is still no solution. We hope that together with the business community we will find the correct algorithm for solving this problem. We are waiting for the initiative on your part, ready to discuss and seek solutions. We will create a special working section at customs cost in order to see how this problem is being solved in other jurisdictions. Obviously, the technical equipment of customs authorities, including various analytical resources, is much higher than it was before. This is an added advantage to be used. How to use it – we are ready to discuss, including your participation.
The second working section is an expert group on maritime transport. In this segment there is a specificity that must be taken into account. Without experience of the best world practices we can not do, so we expect that the participants in the process associated with maritime transport will support and join. This applies to all those who are busy – carriers, stevedores, port infrastructure owners, forwarders, shipping agents. We are all invited to participate in the development of a unified approach so that, in the whole country, the practice is uniform, so that the various maritime regions are not very different both in terms of procedures and in terms of application.
In conclusion, I will say that the Charter is for us a fundamental tool for building constructive relations. We hope that the process will be picked up and supported by other participants. I want to invite you once again to our interaction in a new format, in the new EAC. I hope that this cooperation will be mutually beneficial.