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Chambers of Commerce Supporting Companies in Russia
Start date: Nov 30, 2004, End date: Apr 29, 2007 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The project intended to research and assist in resolving questions listed by companies during the ‘Barents Business, Trade and Investments’ project. The questions were related to customs and crossing the border, business investments, taxation, legislation, logistics, and transport. In addition, the companies and issues in the Koillismaa region that were associated with the new Suoperä - Kortesalmi international border-crossing point were to be included more closely in the cooperation. The largest international business and industrial companies operating in Karelia were to be included in the cooperation through the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Karelia. This would also create awareness in the companies about the Finnish interests in subcontracting and production. The cooperation between the Chambers of Commerce would also be strengthened into standard operational procedures and the information flow to officials regarding questions of trade with Russia would be improved. Achievements: The project conducted a survey to companies regarding difficulties with trade with Russia, the need for information and training, and the expectations for Chambers of Commerce within the framework of the project. Discussion events related to the surveys were organised in Oulu, Joensuu, and Petrozavodsk. A survey was also completed for Russian companies, which was prepared together with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Karelia. The encountered difficulties were addressed in teams and during the various types of numerous work seminars arranged by the project in, for example, Sortavala, Kostomuksha, Petrozavodsk, Oulu, and Joensuu. The practical subjects in the Customs and Border-crossing Teams were: speeding up crossing the border by reducing the number of inspections in freight transport and limiting the amount of officials operating on the border, implementing the use pre-handled customs services, improving predictability and creating uniform customs valuation practices, and simplifying temporary export practices. The project organised, for example, Ata Carnet specialist days regarding the subject at the Kostomuksha and Sortavala customs locations. The events clarified issues, for example, related to the international customs document Ata Carnet to the personnel in the customs units in Russia. In addition, the difficulties experienced with it were discussed. The subjects in the Investment and Subcontracting Teams were: Improving obtaining information of changes in legislation, difficulties with taxation practices of foreign companies, and available funding for investments. The topics in the Transport and Logistics Teams were: transport cost predictability and equal treatment, simplifying and standardising or eliminating transport authorisation practises and excess weight charges, and assessing the need and development opportunities for transport services on specific border-crossing points and routes. Company views were extensively gathered as a result of the team meetings and summaries were created that were presented in seminars held in Sortavala and Kostomuksha. The summaries presented at the seminars also contained solution alternatives for the difficulties. The project aimed to resolve the identified problems by relaying suggestions for action to the officials and decision-makers of both countries.
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