Uncertainty lingers for market vendors over clothing certification rules


Uncertainty over the introduction of stringent certification rules for imported clothing and footwear has not been cleared up despite the government`s decision to postpone it until July 2014, said small business activist Anatol Shumchanka.

The rules, which were scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2013, will prohibit the sale of clothes and footwear without a special label confirming their compliance with the Customs Union`s safety standards.

Earlier this month, the government said that it would adopt a directive delaying the introduction of the rules by one year.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Mr. Shumchanka, leader of the Perspektyva small business association, announced that the Eurasian Economic Commission, which oversees trade rules within the Customs Union, had already described the postponement as illegal and invalid.

Apart from this, he said, the one-year reprieve is to be applied only to market vendors who will produce papers confirming that their goods have been imported from a Customs Union country. "In fact, these are the same documents that are needed for obtaining safety certificates," he stressed.

The reprieve does not apply to vendors registered as "private unitary enterprises," which will be required to have their goods certified by the health authorities in a very costly procedure starting next month, according to Mr. Shumchanka.

The activist said that market vendors would stage a walkout on June 27 in protest against the certification rules and the uncertainty.

Perspektyva warned earlier that vendors in Belarus might not be able to have their goods confirmed as compliant with the standards because of high costs and the lack of a clear procedure. Market vendors threatened to stage mass strikes to protest the new rules. // BelaPAN