Embassy helps to free traders

FOOTWEAR exporters are calling for diplomatic help after Russian police raided a warehouse at a Moscow market.  

Armed police raided a warehouse in a wholesale market in southern Moscow on Saturday and seized more than 100 containers of shoes worth some 80 million yuan (RM36.7mil). They accused Chinese merchants of not having proper customs documents for their goods.  

The shoes were owned by about 20 export businesses from Wenzhou, in Zhejiang province.  

“We have reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Commerce and the China Leather Industry Association,” said Chen, an official with the Wenzhou Leather Industry Association. 

Chen, who declined to give his full name, said police in Moscow seized the shoes with little explanation.  

“If we are told that we do not have proper documents or need to pay a fine, then we are willing to get the necessary papers or pay the money,” he said.  

As several Chinese businessmen hurried to the scene to ask for an explanation, police took away their passports and detained them for six hours, Chen said. They were later freed after the Chinese Embassy intervened.  

Sources with the embassy in Moscow said they are looking into the matter. 

“Grey customs clearance” is a regular phenomenon among Chinese companies who turn to intermediaries to transport bulk packages of commodities in planes and container trucks.  

However, the practice may fail to provide them with enough Customs documents.  

The lack of papers has also affected dealers from Turkey, Pakistan and other countries that use the same practice to lower costs and improve efficiency.  

Chen admitted that shoe exporters used the “grey Customs clearance” method. However, he argued that they were not smugglers.  

The raid was not the first against Chinese traders by Moscow police.  

In February last year, officers from the Russian Interior Ministry raided the Emila market in Moscow and carted away US$30mil (RM114mil) worth of goods from some 300 Chinese stalls on the same charge of not having proper Customs documents. – People's Daily 

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