Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The call

So, in order to figure out how we need to properly import items to Armenia, I tried to arrange a call to AH from the Customs Committee. He is a person of authority at the Customs Committee and told our employees last time that if there is any issue he can help out.

I told AH that we are planning on importing a large quantity of computer equipment and asked him to help us arrange the paperwork in such a way so that there will be no problems when the equipment arrives.

His answer was in essence to get lost. He said he doesn't have time for this and that he would have to do this as a consultation outside of business hours.

I reminded him that last time it was he who told us that he can help us out with any question we had.

He said whether we had the following documents:

- Contract with exporting company (in the US)
- Invoices from exporting company
- Proof of payment (such as a bank wire)

I told him that we will have all this. But that last time, we also had this and we were told that we are missing documentation.

He said that times have changed and that they view these things more "liberally" now. To remind the reader, our last interaction with customs was in January 2008 or 3 months ago.

However, given that there is a new Customs Minister and that the newly elected president had recently blasted customs for being "corrupt", I'd like to assume that AH's words are truthful.

Project "Second Try"

In December/January of 2008, our company imported nearly $10000 worth of computer equipment for internal use. It was a nightmare scenario where we were given problems until the very end. My office manager visited the customs house and customs committee nearly 15 times. In the end, we received our hardware, but later found out that customs had overcharged us.

Today is the start of the new attempt to import equipment in Armenia.

This time, I will document every step in this process and post a complete account of our activities. Perhaps this time things will be different.

In this "Project Second Try", we will try to import nearly $5-10K worth of computer equipment. We plan to buy it from an online retailer in the US, ship it to a shipping company, which will then package our equipment and send it to Armenia. Once the equipment arrives in Armenia, we expect to receive a notice from Armenian Customs, after which we have to deal with lots of paperwork.

According to our experience last time, this is the paperwork we needed:

- Contract with exporting company
- Proof of payment to exporting company (bank wires)
- Invoice from exporting company

Last time, we had all of the above, but customs informed us that we were missing paperwork, such as "export certificate" and "certification of origin". We inquired in the US and no one in the export business advised us to get these documents (neither were they aware of them) for the type of goods we were exporting from the US.

We will call the person at Customs Committee for a better explanation of what we need this time.

Lets hope this works better than last time.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Corruption in Armenia has to end!

One can name many ills that threaten Armenia today. However, after the Artsakh war, I would be hard-pressed to recall any other that carries so much potential for destructiveness than corruption.
The purpose of this blog is to bring more awareness of this terrible condition.

In 2004, after a brief consulting opportunity in Yerevan, I decided to conduct an experiment. I wanted to know whether it really was impossible for someone to be successful in Armenia, unless you're involved in corruption? Is corruption on the incline or decline?

You're welcome to read and participate in this blog as I explore this and other corruption-related topics.