Anti-Trust Resolution on Health Certificates and Following Appeal do not stop Russian Pollock Trade with China

August 22, 2011 09:59

Buyers of Far-Eastern fish had all been panicking from early August before working solutions started to be made. Last month Primorsky Krai Department (Capital Vladivostok) of Rosselkhoznadzor Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (FSVPS) all at once stopped issuance of HCs for exported fish products. At the same time fish entrance to China without HCs should be impossible, even for tolling, no matter whether it was duly paid for or not.

The reason behind was the Resolution of Antimonopoly Service Department in Primorsky Krai dated July, 14, which forbade FSVPS to ask a "conclusion" of Ussurijsk Interregional Veterinary Lab following a complaint from Russian Pollock exporters. The decision was executed immediately on receiving official copy of the decision.  That's why the buyers of cargo in transit that had already left Russia suffered most before online solutions were found out.

FSVPS is absolutely unhappy with Antimonopoly decision.  The first thing they've done was an appeal to a court against it.  The body is looking for supporters among companies who suffered in this situation.  In fact, they took them as hostages and now ask them to write supportive petitions to different authorities. " A la guerre comme a la guerre". 

Meanwhile trade has not stopped.  Somehow product is being delivered to China and all the necessary documents are produced.  It means that whatever happens, people find ways out and the Russian government officers are able to produce temporary crisis solutions while a major one is being sorted out in the court, according to Russian Fish Insider Report published by


One of necessary documents for export clearance from Russia is a 5-i form Veterinary Certificate.  Actually, the only people who need it are those who issue the paper, but very important is that it contains name of buyer.  It's technically impossible to take any fish out of Russia without the certificate.  Normally a buyer doesn't know whom he would re-sell the fish further on.  Even more - usually the lot is re-sold to different buyers by parts.  Sometimes there is a lag of a few months while the product is on a bonded warehouse somewhere in Korea.

Surely, an importer needs a health certificate to import the product.  Of course, it is not a Russian 5-i, but some other document issued by FSVPS basing on the 5-i, and it must contain importer name.  Normally the importer and the buyer are different companies, and to provide documentation continuity the seller and the buyer made "an agreement that the cargo for Contract NNN is actually delivered to companies A, B, C".  The Agreement was not necessary either to the seller, or to the buyer.  The only body who wanted it was FSVPS.  Basing on this paper (in fact, a fax copy!) FSVPS issued the health certificates. 

In fact, the practice was senseless from the very beginning.  Part of the procedure for HC (to China, or to Europe) was getting a "survey act" made by an inspector of Ussurijsk laboratory, located in a foreign port.  There was just one such inspector for three enormous ports (Busan, Dalian, Qingdao), and she didn't have time to have a look at each (!) bag / carton.  She worked really hard to do necessary paperwork.  As antimonopoly investigation revealed, sometimes the Acts of survey in China were issued prior to customs clearance in Russia.

This senseless "as if inspection" was a reason for irritation to all the exporters.  The most irritated company was probably Pacific Andes group who, unlike the others, was able to plan their sales and logistics and didn't really need additional agreements.  The result of this irritation was filing a suit to Antimonopoly Service by Okeanrybflot and Pollock Catchers Association.  The case was run by a lawyer of TURNIF, with alleged support of Pacific Andes.

After the Decision the procedure has changed.  The HCs are to be issued before the product is delivered overseas, naturally without any survey or inspection in a foreign port, but importer name in HC is to be the same as buyer name in 5-i.  It means Russian sellers need information about importers a bit earlier than usual.  It is extremely uncomfortable for all the intermediaries who stocked product in Korea, and particularly to those who are in transition period.  Products in warehouses and, what is particularly bad, onboard some trampers "hanged".

Now logistic of fish to Europe is absolutely unclear.  There used to be intermediate warehouse in Busan, used by most companies who sell their fish to European buyers.  It was Busan where the cargo was counted and containers stuffed.  It was extremely important as it's not enough to get information from vessels, but absolutely essential to calculate cargo actually delivered ashore.  From now on it's necessary to plan all the shipments well in advance, and just to go smoothly through another bureaucratic procedure.  Most unpleasant in all of this is the fact that the decision didn't make exporters' life easier.  Let's look at HC today.  What does it certify for a fish delivered directly from fishing ground?  Just period of catch, and, hence, remained storage period.  The fact that the fish was caught legally is confirmed by Catch Certificate, and FSVPS issuing HC actually makes the same work as FAR issuing CC.

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