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Russia's RFID tags on fur set for geographic/sector expansion

One year post the use of RFID marker chips to track and identify fur garments within Russia and neighbouring Belarus, the initiative is a great success. So, the scheme is now likely to be extended to cover the movement of fur products within the other three member states of the Eurasian Economic Union – Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.

Since January 2017, all new fur garments within Russia and Belarus came fitted with a irremovable Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip, which was designed to curb the extensive practice of illicitly importing such items to avoid paying duty. The success of the scheme was reflected in the exponential rise in declared volume of imported fur items.

The total number of declared garments rose from 1,07,000 in 2016 to 1,76,000 in 2017. In the case of headwear, the increase was even more dramatic, with the number of such items declared rising from 1,21,000 to 3,46,000. Taken together, this amounted to a 65 per cent growth in the number of declared items across the two countries and the two categories.

Inevitably, this has led to the overall value ascribed to the fur trade in these two markets being substantially upgraded. On the logistics side, given that locally-produced items are also tagged, it has been seen that the system is well suited to keep track of around four million individual units.

Following the success of the scheme, the system was extended to Kazakhstan in December last year, with Armenia set to be similarly enrolled before the end of this month. Under the terms of an agreement signed by all EEU members, Kyrgyzstan is obliged to sign up to the system by 1 July this year. In addition to the geographic expansion of the initiative, the Eurasian Economic Commission, the EEUs executive, is also looking to extend the use of RFID technology into other product categories simultaneously, plans are under consideration to expand its geographic reach still further, with the system ultimately seen as covering a range of product categories across a footprint that stretches from Central Asia to the EU border and from the Baltics to the Russian Far East.