07ASTANA2823, KAZAKHSTAN’S CUSTOMS SHUTDOWN DRAGS ON AMID HOPES FOR

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07ASTANA2823 2007-10-16 02:07 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO0163
RR RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHPW RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #2823/01 2890207
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 160207Z OCT 07
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0914
INFO RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY
RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 0276
RUCNCLS/SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 002823 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR SCA/CEN - O'MARA 
DEPT PLEASE PASS TO USTR, COMMERCE, DHS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ECON ETRD EINV EIND ENRG PGOV CASC KTDB KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN'S CUSTOMS SHUTDOWN DRAGS ON AMID HOPES FOR 
RESOLUTION 
 
Ref: Astana 2716 
 
ASTANA 00002823  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. (SBU) Summary.  The Kazakhstani customs shutdown, precipitated by 
the late-August enactment of a law with severe unintended 
consequences (reftel), continues.  The Government of Kazakhstan 
(GOK) is pursuing a potential resolution on two different tracks: 
enactment of a law designed to relax the current requirement for 
submission of customs export declarations; and finding a legal basis 
to allow the import of goods currently stuck in customs warehouses. 
Post is continuing to aggressively push for a temporary solution and 
looking to ensure that the new draft law currently considered by 
Parliament is adequate in allowing the import of U.S. goods into 
Kazakhstan.  Please see action request in paragraph 6.  End 
summary. 
 
The Root of the Problem 
----------------------- 
 
2. (SBU) The late-August enactment of the law requiring submission 
of customs export declarations for goods entering Kazakhstan, the 
culprit behind the ongoing shutdown, was apparently driven by the 
authorities' desire to introduce a mechanism for more accurate 
valuation of goods imported into Kazakhstan, particularly from 
China.  The only exemption provided in the law is for goods 
originating "from countries that do not produce" export declaration 
forms.  According to Kazakhstani customs officials, the U.S., which 
"produces" (even though it does not allow "sharing" of) customs 
declarations, does not qualify for the exemption.  GOK officials 
have repeatedly stated to us that they have no choice but to enforce 
the law strictly as written or face the possibility of being 
personally prosecuted by the General Procuracy, a special body that 
answers directly -- and only -- to the country's president. 
 
A Short-Term Solution? 
---------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) Following extensive communication with Post and apparent 
wrangling between the Customs Committee and the Finance Ministry 
(under the umbrella of which the Customs Committee operates), a 
possible short-term solution began to take shape.  On October 11, 
Deputy Chairman of Customs Committee Dusebayev informed DTRO Chief 
that he was authorizing release of all diplomatic shipments 
(pursuant to the Vienna Convention) and outlined a framework for 
resolving the stoppage of U.S. imports into Kazakhstan.  Given that 
the enactment of the new draft law is expected soon (various Finance 
Ministry and Customs officials currently estimate that the law will 
be enacted within two weeks to a month), Dusebayev told DTRO Chief 
that he is willing to start enforcing the new law now.  He stated 
that he is issuing an order to allow U.S. goods to pass through 
customs upon submission of an invoice with a U.S. notary stamp. 
Considering a large backlog of U.S. goods currently stuck in 
Kazakhstani customs warehouses, Post expects that this solution -- 
assuming it holds -- will lead to a high short-term demand for 
notary services of Post's Consular Section. 
 
The New Law: Will It Work for the U.S.? 
--------------------------------------- 
 
4. (SBU) The requirement for a notarization stamp raises serious 
questions about the acceptability to the U.S. of the GOK's new 
approach.  While the new draft law is still under consideration by 
Parliament (and is, therefore, subject to change), its original text 
(provided to the Parliament by the Government) raises concerns. 
According to Customs Committee sources, this text requires: "a copy 
of a customs declaration or a substitute document certified by the 
customs agency of the country of origin."  "Certification," Customs 
officials have explained, implies a stamp. 
 
5. (SBU) Finding a short-term solution may be gaining additional 
urgency.  Some companies trying to import U.S. goods into Kazakhstan 
have contacted Post with concerns that their goods, currently stuck 
in Kazakhstani customs warehouses, may soon be declared 'contraband' 
on the basis of a statutory deadline.  However, head of the Customs 
Committee's Legal Department Kasymbekov assured Econoff on October 
12 that this threat is non-existent.  Goods can be declared 
'contraband,' Kasymbekov stated, only if they remain unclaimed for a 
specified period of time.  This, he stressed, is not the case with 
goods currently held in customs warehouses due to the shutdown. 
 
Action Request 
-------------- 
 
6. (SBU) Post requests guidance on two issues.  1. Is it acceptable 
for Post's Consular Section to notarize invoices in order to assist 
passage of commercial U.S. goods through Kazakhstani customs?  2. 
Post requests a joint consultation by DOS, DOC, DHS, and USTR to &
#x000A; 
ASTANA 00002823  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
provide analysis of the new draft law as stated in paragraph 4.  If 
the new requirement is unacceptable, Post requests talking points 
for raising U.S.G. concerns with the GOK. 
 
MILAS

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