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    Russia reports strong electronic goods imports in 2005

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    MOSCOW, January 25 (RIA Novosti) - Imports of electronic goods into Russia rose strongly in 2005 with mobile phones leading the way, the country's top customs official said Wednesday.

    Alexander Zherikhov, the head of the Federal Customs Service, said the number of mobile phones officially brought into Russia was up six times in 2005, year-on-year to 15.5 million. He said the overall value of mobile phone imports had increased twenty-fold over the year.

    "Mobile phones accounted for 36.4% of household electronics imported in 2005 compared with a mere 3.9% in 2004," he said.

    Zherikhov also said the imports of color TVs had risen by 2.1 times and refrigerators and VCRs by 1.7 times in terms of their value. As a whole, the imports of household electronics expanded by 110% in terms of their value in 2005, year-on-year, to $4.2 billion.

    The customs official said one reason for the increase in the electronics imports was that importers had started to declare electronics under the appropriate customs categories, which had not always been the case in the past. In fact, law-enforcement agencies in the capital conducted a major operation late last year to halt the inflow of smuggled mobile phones into the country, which led to a surge in prices and a shortage of phones.

    In addition, Zherikhov echoed previous statements expressed by officials by saying the Russian customs service was in favor of reducing duties on goods that were not produced in Russia, while maintaining import duties on all goods produced in Russia to protect domestic producers.

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