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Ukraine blocks Transnistrian section of border for cargo traffic

The Ukrainian government’s decision restricting import of excisable goods through the Transnistrian-Ukrainian border crossing came into effect on May 18. The document removes the checkpoints in Kuchurgani and Platonovo, Odessa region, from the list of the open checkpoints for such excisable goods as alcohol, tobacco, and some foodstuffs.

Transnistrian trade agents were traditionally buying these goods from Ukraine. It is anticipated that these goods flows will be redirected and similar deliveries will be organized via Moldova.  By data of the State Customs Committee of Transnistria, goods will be purchased at higher prices, which means that the import volumes and, consequently, the customs payments, will decrease. The way things are going, the budget loss of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic (TMR) for 2015 will exceed $20 million. The new restrictions will apply to nearly 70 Transnistrian enterprises.

Svetlana Klimenkova, the first deputy head of the State Customs Committee of Transnistria says: “After the restrictions, no checkpoint has been left between Transnistria and Ukraine so that we could transport excisable goods.”

In 2014, Ukraine extended the list of excisable goods with the group of products under the customs code 2106 90. The Transnistria State Customs Committee says this code applies to the supplements, drugs, and products that were previously imported to Transnistria without any restrictions. So, import of Vitamin C, nervine herbs, fish oil, tums, and activated charcoal from Ukraine are banned now. In addition, the following products were put on the list of the restricted goods: biological supplements, fillers, premixes, flavoring agents, thickeners, syrups – these products are widely used by local processing companies.

The European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and Ukraine (EUBAM) is concerned over the new rules and promises its assistance in the situation. Earlier, in April, the Moldovan Expert Group on Economy also agreed to study the text of the joint appeal with Transnistria to Ukraine for explanations over the new import mechanism.  Nevertheless, no measures have been taken to that end. It appears that the new rules are economically favorable for Chisinau. Ukraine imposes no bans on Moldova.

At present, Chisinau controls export of goods from Transnistria, as cargoes can be exported from Transnistria only subject to Moldovan certificate of origin. Meanwhile, Moldova can refuse to issue such certificates.  After the Ukrainian Cabinet’s decision restricting import of excisable goods, Moldova can now control not only the export of goods from Transnistria, but also the import from the left bank of the Dniester.

Deputy Minister of Economic Development of Transnistria Dmitry Boltrushko says, “Ukraine’s leadership seeks to exert economic pressure on Transnistria, probably, to settle political problems.” 

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