New Russian Customs Code inspires optimism among Finnish businesspeople

Valery Draganov, the deputy chairman of the Duma Budget and Tax Committee has held a meeting with representatives of Finnish business and political circles to discuss Russia's new Customs Code. Draganov explained how the new code would create increased business opportunities between Russia and the EU. The Duma deputy arrived in Finland on Sunday, May 18 at the invitation of the Russian-Finnish EuroRussia network. On Monday he gave the main paper at a EuroRussia seminar held at the Ministry of Trade and Industry. According to the Finnish media, the seminar attracted a wide audience, which is evidence of the high level of interest among Finnish business and political circles in the positive effect that the new code should have on imports and exports across the Russian-Finnish border.

On Tuesday, Draganov held a series of meetings with representatives of Finland's government and parliament. These included meetings with members of the Finnish parliament's Budget Commission and its head, Olavi Ala-Nissila. He also met management figures from Finnish companies belonging to the EuroRussia network: Jari Gustafsson, the trade advisor to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, managers from the Rautaruukki metallurgical concern, and Markus Nyman, the chief executive of the Finnish division of Swiss company Kuehne&Nagel. During these chats Draganov discussed informative measures that will need to be taken before the Customs Code comes into force, so that it can be enforced effectively from day one. With this aim in mind, Draganov proposed that Finnish members of EuroRussia think of possible ways of putting into effect the Duma Budget and Tax Committee's planned control mechanism to ensure that the Customs Code is implemented corrected and that any violations or breaches are revealed. He gave the companies until October to come up with their ideas. Draganov also suggested that they think of ways making adjustments to possible problems with the code.

The business part of Draganov's visit ended with a meeting with the Finnish parliament's speaker, Paavo Lipponen. The speaker expressed his satisfaction with the positive changes that have recently been made to Russian legislation, which he said would create favourable conditions for a radical increase in foreign investment in the Russian economy, Russia's entry into the WTO, and also for more effective implementation of the EU's Northern Dimension programme. The new Customs Code comes into force on April 1, 2004.

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