Russia urged to ease on market

July 17, 2009

, BEIJING, July 17 – China on Friday called on Russia not to overreact in its clampdown on a Moscow bazaar, home to tens of thousands of Chinese traders and well-known for its thriving contraband trade.

The unexpected shutdown of the sprawling Cherkizovsky Market in the Russian capital last month has caused "enormous economic losses" to Chinese traders there, the commerce ministry said in a statement posted on its website.

"The Chinese side pays deep attention to this and… urges the Russian side to handle the issue with discretion," said ministry spokesman Yao Jian in the statement.

The statement urged Russian authorities to protect the legal rights of Chinese firms "particularly their safety and property security", but added that it supported all efforts to clamp down on illegal smuggling.

China also pointed out that an historical tax loophole that traders exploited to import goods more easily into Russia was also a problem, but solving it would take time.

"(China) hopes relevant Russian authorities and the Moscow city government take into account the historic factors… avoid overreacting, and solve the problem via a friendly negotiation and in a gradual manner," Yao said.

The Cherkizovsky Market, where traders from China and Central Asia sell their goods out of shipping containers and from open-air stalls, was closed June 30 for sanitary violations on a temporary basis.

The closure came after reports said Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was annoyed by recent extravagance shown by Cherkizovsky\’s multimillionaire owner Telman Ismailov.

Russian officials have said it was likely to be shut for good this year.

Nearly 80,000 Chinese merchants trade at the market and the crackdown will force many out of business, earlier Chinese state media reports said, quoting experts warning the row could stymie Chinese investment in Russia.

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