Customs restrictions against Russia in 2024

New restrictive customs measures against Russia: Import and Export

Mar 2, 2024

Following the Russian offensive in Ukraine, the European Union (EU) has imposed restrictions on trade with Russia and other territories involved in the attack. This means that European establishments, both public and private, can no longer sell or buy certain products from Russia. The list of goods affected by these sanctions is regularly updated. The aim is to weaken the Russian economy as much as possible, while minimizing the negative impact on European companies and citizens. The health, pharmaceutical, food and agricultural sectors are the least affected.

43.9 billion euros: this is the value of goods exports to Russia banned by the EU since February 2022, according to the European Commission. Imports are estimated at 91.2 billion euros. This represents 49% of exports and 58% of imports compared with the volumes recorded in 2021.

Which territories are affected by these economic sanctions? Which products will be banned from export or import in 2024? What are the new restrictive customs measures against Russia? We take stock!

Territories affected by customs restrictions in response to Russia's military aggression in Ukraine

For European and French companies, trade with the following territories has been restricted or prohibited since the start of the war in Ukraine:

  • Russian Federation;
  • Belarus;
  • areas of the Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk and Lugansk not controlled by the Ukrainian government.

Products banned from EU exports to Russia

Since the start of the war in Ukraine, European companies have been unable to sell certain products to the Russian Federation, Belarus and the territories of the Ukrainian oblasts of Donetsk and Lugansk not controlled by the Ukrainian government.

The bans primarily concern cutting-edge technologies such as quantum computers, advanced semiconductors, software and electronic components. The EU bans exports of technological equipment, products and services related to the energy, aviation and maritime sectors. This includes, for example, jet fuels, aircraft, aircraft engines, radio communication equipment, spare parts and all types of equipment for aircraft and helicopters.

Certain machinery and transport equipment cannot be exported to Russia, as can products and technologies essential to oil refining. Dual-use goods (military and civilian) are also affected by these restrictions. Drones, drone software and encryption devices destined for Russia will not be allowed to cross European borders either. In the same vein, the EU is blocking all exports to Russia of firearms for civilian use, their parts and certain military equipment.

These economic sanctions are not limited to the military sector. Luxury goods (watches, jewelry, cars, etc.), lithium batteries, chemicals and thermostats are also affected. The EU also prohibits the sale to Russia of any product or technology likely to strengthen industry in the land of the Tsars.

Goods banned for import from Russia to the EU

Since December 2022, European countries have ceased all imports of Russian crude oil. Refined petroleum products of the same origin, with a few exceptions, have been banned from purchase in Europe since February 2023. EU restrictions on imports from the world's largest country also apply to :

  • coal and other solid fossil fuels;
  • gold and diamonds, including jewelry ;
  • steel, iron and steel products;
  • seafood products and spirits such as caviar and vodka;
  • cement, wood, asphalt, paper, synthetic rubber and plastics
  • cigarettes and cosmetics.

In this customs measure, particular attention has been paid to diamonds. European companies and organizations are not allowed to import this precious stone if it is :

  • of Russian origin;
  • imported from Russia;
  • in transit through Russia;
  • of Russian origin and processed in a third country.

Natural and synthetic non-industrial diamonds and diamond jewelry have been subject to a direct ban on imports from Russia to Europe since January 1, 2024. In addition, an indirect ban will be applied progressively from March 1, 2024 to September 1, 2024. It concerns Russian diamonds cut and/or polished in third countries. Jewelry incorporating this material will not escape this restrictive measure.

The non-re-export clause to the Russian Federation

In December 2023, the EU introduced a new clause applying to European exporters. It contractually prohibits the re-export to Russia and for use within the Federation of a limited number of goods. This clause applies to any supply, sale, export or transfer to a third country. However, it excludes partner countries. Here are the products covered by this new measure:

  • dual-use goods ;
  • high-tech products likely to be used in the Russian military system against Ukraine, or necessary for their manufacture;
  • products essential to the production or use of Russian military systems;
  • aeronautical goods and weapons.

Customs authorities are responsible for enforcing these bans. In addition, the EU has declared that it reserves the right to stop treating Russia as a favored nation within the framework of the WTO (World Trade Organization). Failing an increase in import tariffs, it has banned the sale or purchase of certain goods from Russia. In collaboration with its partners, it has also suspended the process of Belarus joining the WTO.

As of September 30, 2023, the EU has introduced new restrictions against Russia. Finished and semi-finished steel and aluminum products of Russian origin may no longer cross European borders.

Restrictive customs measures against Russia applicable to transport

The EU closes its borders to Russian and Belarusian carriers. The customs sanctions in place depend on the type of transport.

Road transport

Whether transporting Russian products or in transit from Russia, trucks from this country are not allowed to cross European borders. The aim is to limit Russian industrial capacity and disrupt road trade to and from the land of the Tsars. However, exemptions may be granted to :

  • shipments in the energy, pharmaceutical, medical, agricultural and food sectors;
  • products for humanitarian aid ;
  • transport relating to diplomatic and consular representations of the EU and its Member States in Russia, international organizations in Russia benefiting from immunities under International Law;
  • transfer or export to Russia of cultural goods lent as part of official cultural cooperation ;
  • entry into the EU of vehicles bearing diplomatic license plates or serving a humanitarian operation;
  • access to cars of EU nationals resident in Russia.

Mail services and goods in transit between Kaliningrad Oblast and Russia are not affected by the ban.

Air transport

Since February 2022, Russian carriers have no longer had access to EU airports. Nor can they fly over European airspace. Like Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, European countries are forbidden to provide any insurance, technical assistance or maintenance services related to goods and technologies linked to the aerospace industry.

Maritime transport

With its 2,800 ships, the Russian merchant fleet has been banned from EU ports. Some ships, however, are not affected by this measure. These include those carrying :

  • energy or coal;
  • food, agricultural, medical or pharmaceutical products;
  • humanitarian aid;
  • nuclear fuel and other goods essential to the operation of civil power plants.

Other ships are exempt from this restriction: those requesting assistance or seeking refuge, and those making emergency calls to save lives at sea or for maritime safety.

To detect any attempts by Russian shipping companies to change flags or registrations, customs services rely on the IMO number. This is a unique numerical identifier assigned to each ship by the International Maritime Organization.

Customs restrictions against Russia in 2024: what you need to know

The EU's restrictive customs measures against the Russian Federation are primarily aimed at weakening its industry. This strong stance in favor of the independence of the Ukrainian territory as a whole is hampering the Russian economy, which relied heavily on trade with European countries before the war.

However, the EU and its member states continue to regard food safety as a top priority. They therefore explicitly authorize the purchase and transport of Russian food and agricultural products to avoid any such crisis. Humanitarian action also constitutes an insurmountable limit within the framework of these sanctions.

The EU regularly updates its measures against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So it's vital for European companies and carriers to keep abreast of the latest developments.

Do you need to export or import products to or from Russia or Belarus? Do you need to ship humanitarian aid to Ukraine? Contact our customer service department to find out all about this type of operation! We'll guide you through the entire process.

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