A customs change that would have forced shippers to divert cargo away from the port of St. Petersburg, Russia’s busiest container port, to nearby Bronka has been suspended after the arrest of a customs official, as reported in the Journal of Commerce.
Bronka was on track to be the single host of the Federal Customs Service’s e-customs clearance in the Russian northwest, which would have added costly delays to customs processing at St. Petersburg, Russia’s busiest port, if documentation were missing or some other issue to arise. Terminal operators and shippers opposed the shift of the cargo clearance agency to Bronka.
The suspension means that Big Port St. Petersburg will remain the center of gravity in Russia’s container trade for several more years, although Bronka was developed to cope with capacity constraints and the challenges posed by ship upsizing at St. Petersburg.
The center did open as planned on August 1st, but a scandal involving the now former head of the FCS, Andrei Belyaninov, led to the suspension of operations at Bronka and the resumption of customs processing in St. Petersburg.
The suspension could make it harder for Bronka to put its new capacity to use and impact its future development, according to a spokesperson for Maxim Sokolov, Russia’s Minister of Transport.
The move of the customs point to port of Bronka could lead toe costs and more paperwork, most retailers fear.
The situation is also complicated by the fact that the majority of the stevedores and partners are based in the Big St. Petersburg seaport, so the move to Bronka would also result in higher costs.Stevedores have argued that Bronka was too far from St. Petersburg to host such an important customs center and that staff at the port lacked the required experience to make the move a success.
The FCS has justified the move to Bronka by citing customs corruption at Big Port St. Petersburg and saying that the move would also help increase container traffic in Russia’s Baltic Basin ports because of its advanced infrastructure and ability to handle larger ships.
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