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Tuesday, 13 May 2014 20:51

Where Does Russian Amber End Up?

Written by  Anna Sado

Following the Russian declarations, it was supposed to fulfil the needs of the producers from Kaliningrad in the first place, and the excess was meant to go on the market where everybody was going to have an opportunity to purchase it. The current situation, however, can be briefly summarised as: it was meant to be wonderful, but it ended up as usual...

When a few months ago the Russians began another reform to the combinat - and this time it was a reform of the entire industry as well - hardly anybody believed in its success. It's not surprising, as all the attempts before that had ended up exactly the same: failure. Nothing changed at the combinat apart from the management team. Implementing yet another reform did not attract any interest among Polish producers, who largely depend on the supply of the raw material form the mine in Jantarnyj, until it turned out that the Russians are planning to stop export of the raw material in order to create preferential conditions for their local entrepreneurs. A great action of verifying those companies began - they were scrutinised in terms of the number of employees, machinery and their capacities. The inspection also included checking their legal and tax affairs. The companies who passed the verification process were given first parts of the raw material along with an order to process everything that they received to semi- finished or finished products. The reformers wanted to avoid the need for selling the raw material further. Also, "a war has been declared" on illegal miners and smugglers. Perhaps, changes are possible after all...?

The far-reaching plans of the reformers of the Kaliningrad amber industry embraced also the Polish and Lithuanian amber industry: their representatives were going to be invited to launch economic activity in the Kaliningrad region. Does that mean that the Russians are not able to process all the raw material promised to them by the authorities? Or perhaps they don't know how? In Wassilij Siemonov's opinion, it is primarily an opportunity to gain access to raw material, as all the Russians know very well all the nitty-gritty of production. An official invitation for the Polish was given during the meeting at the Amberif trade fair in March this year: "We can secure your interests and work places by acting together" - said  Dimitrij Czemakin, the Minister of Industry Policy, Entrepreneurship and Trade of the Kaliningrad Region at that time. Even though he declared, on behalf of the authorities of the region, the will to organise another meeting in Kaliningrad in the near future, nothing has happened about it, and the letters sent by the Polish side have not received a reply.

Nothing is likely to happen here, because - as we could learn from the events at the beginning of April - there is not enough amber even for the companies from Kaliningrad. How is that possible? As the amber producers from Kaliningrad wrote in the open letter to President Putin. they have received merely 100 tons of the raw material, and only 20% of that is processable, the rest is small fractions. What happened to the rest? According to the rugrad.eu portal, they were meant to go to four companies from Moscow, whose fields of activity - accounting, wholesale, energetic equipment trade, fish trade or financial mediation - are far from amber processing. Amber producers have dubbed the situation as catastrophic and declare that they are ready to demonstrate against the policy of the combinat, based on using double standards. They demand a transparent policy of raw material distribution, controlled by the law, and suggest that the supervisory board ought to be established at the combinat, as well as an electronic queue should be created.

It was meant to be wonderful, and ended up as usual...

For the Polish it is also the end of the dreams about cooperation: as launching economic activity in the Kaliningrad region does not give any guarantee of access to the raw material from Kaliningrad. "The events on the amber raw material market in Russia ought to be an impulse to start mining our local deposits immediately. Let us stop delude ourselves that we will receive amber from them. Let us not waste any more energy waiting" - sums up Adam Pstrągowski, the president of the S&A SA.

Anna Sado

Anna Sado

Trade journalist specialising in jewellery related topics. Since 2007 has been co-creator of the amber portal amber.com.pl

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