Some market vendors on strike against new certification rules


Some small business owners with sole entrepreneur status in different cities are on strike against the new certification rules for imported clothing and footwear that were introduced within the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia on July 1.

Approved by the Commission of the Customs Union, the rules prohibit the sale of clothes and footwear without a special label confirming their compliance with the Customs Union`s safety standards. The sellers will be required to submit samples of their goods to laboratories for testing and pay the certification costs.

Small business owners have condemned the rules as unfair, stressed that manufacturers and not sellers should pay the costs and threatened to shut up shop, stop paying taxes and stage large-scale protests starting July 1 if their demands are ignored.

About half of the stalls at the Chervenski market in Minsk and all stalls at the Pawdnyovy market in Hrodna are closed, Vyachaslaw Pilipuk, an activist of a small business association called Perspektyva, told BelaPAN on Tuesday afternoon. Twenty percent of the sole entrepreneurs in Vitsyebsk and 80 percent of the sole entrepreneurs in Svetlahorsk are on strike, Mr. Pilipuk said, adding that “two central markets in Homyel were closed 30 minutes ago.”

Starting July 1, the trade ministry’s commission has been visiting markets and shopping centers to see whether vendors abide by new certification rules, Mr. Pilipuk said.

In late June, the government adopted a directive saying that the Customs Union's new certification rules would not be applied to market vendors for another year if they produced “accompanying documents” for imported clothing and footwear that they sell.

On July 1, activists of small business associations petitioned Deputy Prime Minister Pyotr Prakapovich to exempt market vendors from the requirement to produce accompanying documents for their goods.
The petition urged Mr. Prakapovich, who chairs the government's Council for Enterprise Development, to ensure that the government restores the rule that required market vendors selling clothing and footwear to comply with national rather than Customs Union standards.

On June 27, thousands of vendors who sell clothing and footwear at markets and shopping centers across Belarus staged a one-day national strike against the introduction of the new certification rules.

The following day, activists of Perspektyva applied to the Minsk city government for permission to stage a march on July 15 in protest against the new certification system. Perspektyva stressed that there would be no further need for protests if authorities satisfied the demands of market vendors. // BelaPAN