The other day, State Duma deputies immediately approved amendments in the second and third readings that exempt importers from criminal and administrative liability (without this, copyright holders can sue the importer and turn out to be right) for importing consignments of goods without the permission of the copyright holder, that is, the manufacturer. This is parallel import. It is likely that this bill will soon be approved by the Federation Council and signed by the president. And the formation of the regulatory framework for parallel imports will be completed.
But experts are in no hurry to celebrate and meet the era of new abundance. And the point is not at all that the Ministry of Industry and Trade refused to include Coca-Cola, beloved by millions, in the list of goods allowed for parallel imports. Parallel import itself has fundamental problems.
The easiest way is with the supply of clothing. In this case, the Ministry of Industry and Trade did not set any restrictions on brands - you can import any goods from anywhere, even from "friendly" China. In addition, expensive certification is not required for clothing. Experts are sure that parallel imports in the field of clothing are quite possible. CEO of Sellematics and Sellmonitor Daria Tkachenko, claims that manufacturers are not interested in immediately refusing supplies to Russia, at least this year:
- In the production of clothing, the purchase of raw materials, design collections, and sales planning are carried out in advance, so that part of the production is either already produced or is scheduled for production capacity utilization. So brands in any case will need to sell what has already been produced and planned for sale in 2022. Which gives us the opportunity to believe that parallel imports will be beneficial for many.
But the more complex the product, the more problems arise. Despite the legalization of parallel imports, it is necessary to somehow protect the country from the flow of counterfeit goods. Therefore, for the import of goods, either a GOST R certificate of conformity (PCT marking) or a Customs Union Certificate of Conformity (EAC marking) is required. Such certification is subject, for example, household appliances, electronics, smartphones. Dmitry Arzhanykh, co-founder of the SLK Group of Companies, draws attention to the fact that the certification rules in the new conditions remain the same:
- Nothing changes with the certification. After all, certification is carried out by the APPLICANT - this is exactly the company that imports these products to the Russian Federation - it is not necessary that the manufacturer or the owner of the trademark participate here.
Certification is time, money and a lot of pitfalls. To import the same smartphones, it is required to provide FSB notification, pass laboratory tests and submit a declaration of conformity with the Customs Union regulation TR TS 020/2011, fill out a declaration of communication equipment, documentation for accessories and components. If the importer works directly with the manufacturer or is one, then collecting all these papers is not a problem. And if the supplier buys equipment from intermediaries, then you have to sweat. Either the manufacturer or the importer can submit a notification to the FSB, but the latter needs a power of attorney from the manufacturer. How to get it if a foreign company basically does not want to do business with Russia? So in theory it is possible to get certificates, in practice it is almost impossible. Therefore, it is easier for the importer not to get involved with parallel imports, but to establish "gray" deliveries and sales through small online stores, which are not a pity to close in case of claims from the authorities. Opens the widest field for corruption at all levels!
Having bought expensive equipment, people want to receive the appropriate service, and count (absolutely legally) on a guarantee. Previously, a broken iPhone could be exchanged for a new one without any problems - authorized service centers simply provided the service, and the manufacturer paid for everything. Anna Kononova from the Central District law firm explains that even now, according to the law, in most cases it is necessary to make claims to the manufacturer:
- In the event of a complete withdrawal from Russia of foreign manufacturers (for example, manufacturers of automotive or household appliances), all risks and obligations to the buyer fall on the selling companies. And if the seller cannot eliminate the production defect, then it is considered not to have fulfilled its obligations to the buyer. Another thing is that almost none of the major foreign manufacturers represented in Russia have announced their complete withdrawal. Production is suspended, workers go into downtime, but Russian divisions are considered active, respectively, they are responsible to the end buyer.
That is, in fact, we are offered to knock on the closed doors of the manufacturer's office, or repair at our own expense. If a foreign company has finally formalized its withdrawal from the Russian market, then the seller bears the warranty obligations. But even here, not everything is going smoothly, says Eldar Murtazin, an analyst at Mobile Research Group:
- Warranty service today is carried out by the seller, in the absence of authorized service centers and goods that are not covered by the manufacturer's warranty, the number of repairs that he can carry out is minimal, these are not authorized repairs. I must also say that the cost of this repair for the company is growing, hence the fact that they include this in the cost of the goods. The product is worth more than before.
The problem is exacerbated by the shortage of spare parts. Authorized Apple service centers complain about the lack of the most popular parts - screens and batteries. Sometimes these elements have to wait a week, and sometimes people are completely denied repairs. No wonder that in the first quarter of 2022, the demand for feature phones grew by 43%.
Prices are a pain point. It is no longer necessary to focus on the official dollar rate for imported goods. The head of the Russian-Turkish trade partnership, Alexander Kostrov, hopes for parallel imports - competition should reduce prices.
- Ideally, prices should decrease, as monopolization is lost and competition intensifies as a result of the supply of the same product by different companies. Incidentally, this has been repeatedly pointed out by the Federal Antimonopoly Service, which has always been for the legalization of parallel imports.
But Daria Tkachenko points out that even now the difference in prices for electronics is very significant:
- For different industries and different logistics schemes, price increases can vary greatly. The price of goods on the Russian market will be affected by the volume of production, the cost of logistics, the number of links in the sales chain and demand in Russia. So, for example, the cost of some Apple positions on the Turkish Hepsiburada marketplace and the domestic Ozon marketplace is two times different (in terms of the current ruble exchange rate).
According to Eldar Murtazin 's forecast, a two-fold increase in prices is not the limit. Large household appliances can outdo it:
- With parallel imports, prices are at least 25% higher for large household appliances due to complex logistics. Prices can rise 2-3 times for refrigerators, washing machines, etc. Logistics there is extremely difficult - it is impossible to bring this equipment by plane, it is very expensive, and by land - this is at least through the territory of two countries. The prices of these items will rise the most.
All these problems of household appliances and electronics are just flowers. Berries - in the supply of cars and spare parts. The Ministry of Industry and Trade has compiled an extensive list of car brands that can now be imported. It includes such luxury brands as Bentey, Rolls Royce, Bugatti, Ferrari, as well as Tesla and Lincoln, which have never been officially sold in Russia, which means they never left. But, for some reason, the popular and massive Ford was not on this list for some reason. Vice-President of the National Automobile Union Anton Shaparin explains that there can be any brands in this list - it still does not make any sense, since the parallel import of cars and spare parts is allowed, but ... prohibited:
- We do not legalize the parallel import of cars and spare parts, we directly prohibit the import of cars in batches by the technical regulations of the Customs Union. To do this, you need to obtain type approval of the vehicle, and only the right holder can get it, no one else. Therefore, there is no parallel import of cars in the Russian Federation and never will be. There will also be no parallel import of spare parts, because the paragraph of the technical regulation on the safety of wheeled vehicles directly says that in order to obtain a certificate, and a certificate is required to introduce spare parts into the Russian Federation, you need to provide a letter stating that the spare parts were purchased at the manufacturer. It is clear that with parallel import, of course, no one will have such a letter, which means that they will not receive a certificate. That is, the list of the Ministry of Industry and Trade does not make any sense simply because you will not receive permits for the import of what is on this list.
The only way to get around the legal conflict is to rewrite the laws. But this is not easy to do, because the technical regulations are the same for all countries of the Customs Union - these are the features of open borders. But even if a miracle happens and the technical regulations are amended, mass deliveries of cars by legal entities will still be impossible, adds Anton Shaparin:
- There are other restrictions: for example, you are Romashka LLC, and you want to bring here a batch of Hyundai Solaris cars, no matter where. To do this, you need to obtain a type approval of the vehicle, this is currently not possible. Suppose this regulatory restriction is removed. And then you will have to pay 80-100 million rubles for issuing a document for this model. And so on for each model, and each legal entity, simply because the tests will cost about the same amount.
Without the abolition of technical regulations and certification, only the import of cars in private is possible. As they used to drive used cars from Europe and Japan, they will continue to do so. But such a scheme, according to Anton Shaparin, cannot compensate for the shortage of 800,000 new cars.
The problems don't end there. The further, the more difficulties will arise with the purchase and use of goods. Alexander Ivanov, chairman of the National Distance Selling Association, notes that it will become increasingly difficult to find suppliers willing to work with Russia over time:
- There is such a nuance: since the seller of these “iPhones”, the one who sends them from conditional Somalia, violates the terms of the Apple dealer agreement , then, probably, App le will liquidate these guys. And he will liquidate until there is someone smart from the dealers who understands that he is losing money on this and will stop violating this agreement. That is, this story is a stream that thins, dries up at a certain moment.
Entrepreneur Dmitry Potapenko believes that such piracy in general is practically impossible in the modern world - everything is too transparent:
- The problem of parallel imports is one, fundamental - if BOSCH left the country, this does not mean at all that it will deliver goods to you through a third country. And since the traceability of goods, including grain, is 100%, “piracy”, as they say, is possible only with pirates, and no one else. And there are not many of them in the world. China, Kazakhstan, and India do not belong to these countries. Therefore, in order to import something with the so-called parallel import, you need to have not a list from the government and the State Duma, but a list of those who want to trade. But there are fundamental problems with this.
Problems with purchases from intermediaries, according to Daria Tkachenko, will also arise due to a reduction in supply. Why produce products for Russia, if for the manufacturer it already seems to not exist?
- Refusing the Russian market, companies will adjust production plans and set up supply chains, which means it will be more difficult to purchase the required volume of products and the price tag for the end consumer will be higher.
One can hope that Western companies will not want to lose profits and will try to sell their goods to Russia by any detours, that "loot conquers evil." However, Dmitry Potapenko does not share these ideas and recalls that in developed countries the market is arranged differently:
- As long as no one recognizes that the consumer is the key factor in parallel imports, nothing will happen in the mind. No need to produce economic obscurantism. If an Apple consumer abroad suddenly, by a strange coincidence, believes that Apple products should not be imported to Russia, then Apple will block absolutely all channels - small and large. And neither the State Duma nor Wildberry can influence this process. Because the consumer will simply say: then I will prefer Huawei products and others like them. Abroad, it is consumer societies that make decisions about one or another attitude - support, or, conversely, hate, any product. And in this topic, only consumer societies can be discussed, and not those who drew that they allow parallel imports, or entrepreneurs who provided a location, like a place in the bazaar, where this product can be provided.
So it turns out that the authorities allowed everyone to enter our house, only they forgot to open the door. Yes, and there is no one to go in. No matter how many officials of the Ministry of Industry and Trade stand on the threshold with bread and salt, the former abundance of goods and former prices will most likely not return in the near future. And this is for a long time.