FAS TERMINATED ANTIMONOPOLY CASE AGAINST THE FEDERAL CUSTOMS SERVICE
FAS concluded that possibility to obtain information regarding the risk category of foreign trade operators through use of “personal accounts” does not affect the conditions of competition on the markets of customs services
The antimonopoly case was investigated upon a complaint against actions of the Federal Customs Service (FCS Russia). For example, FCS provided priority access to the service on informing about the risk category of foreign trade operators to only those companies that provided e-signatures to support the “Charter of bona fide foreign trade operators”. The Customs Service informed foreign trade operators by placing a notice on its web site. At the same time, legal acts of the Russian Federation do not require mandatory joining the Charter.
FAS found that such actions by the customs regulator can restrict competition on the market and issued a warning to the Federal Customs Service to stop them. FCS, however, failed to execute it within the deadline, which formed the grounds to initiate an antimonopoly case against the Customs Service.
Investigating the case, the FAS Commission reached the conclusion that possibility to obtain information about the risk category through use of “personal accounts” does not affect the conditions of competition on the markets of customs services and lead to preventing, restricting, and eliminating competition on this market. Also, foreign trade operators of the same risk category are in equal conditions in terms of control measures regardless of the means of informing about one’s risk category. The Federal Customs Service also presented evidence that informing foreign trade operators about the risk category does not create any competitive advantages for them in business management and, therefore, does not lead to competition restrictions.
Natalia Isaeva, Deputy Head of FAS Fiscal Control Department explained: “The risk management system is created by the Federal Customs Service exactly to shift away total control from total control of all foreign trade and in principles is designed to streamline and accelerate customs control procedures. Investigating the case, we asked questions not only to customs officers but also to representatives of the business community as to how the additional function of providing information required only for the entities joining the Charter, impacts the degree and frequency of control measures. No evidence of such impact was presented and subsequently, elements of violating the antimonopoly law, upon which the case was opened, are not corroborated. Under these circumstances the Commission made a decision on the absence of the violation. I would like to point out that recently the Federal Customs Service has devised and implemented antimonopoly compliance, aimed at prophylactics of antimonopoly violations. In our turn, FAS is ready to provide methodological and any other assistance to implement antimonopoly compliance. Hopefully, it will help to prevent any chances to violate the Federal Law “On Protection of Competition”.