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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release September 28, 1994
                             IN CUSTOMS MATTERS

The Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Russian Federation, hereinafter referred to as "the Parties",

Regarding violations of customs laws as being detrimental to the economic, social, fiscal interests, and public health of their respective countries, as well as to the lawful interests of commerce;

Noting the importance of ensuring the precise calculation of customs duties and other fees imposed on the import or export of goods, and of properly enforcing conditions of prohibition, restriction, and control;

Recognizing the need for international cooperation in matters related to the administration and enforcement of the customs laws of their respective countries;

Believing that efforts directed at preventing violations of customs laws, and at ensuring the proper imposition of import and export duties, can become more effective by cooperation between the Customs Administrations; and

Having regard to the Recommendation of the Customs Cooperation Council regarding Mutual Administrative Assistance of December 5, 1953, and obligations under multilateral agreements such as the Vienna Convention of December 20, 1988;

Have agreed as follows:

                            ARTICLE 1

For the purposes of the present Agreement:

  1. "Customs laws" shall mean such laws and regulations enforced by the Customs Administrations concerning the importation, exportation, and transit or circulation of goods, as they relate to customs duties, taxes and other charges, or to prohibitions, restrictions and other similar controls respecting the movement of controlled or prohibited goods across national boundaries.
  2. "Customs Administration" shall mean, in the United States of America, the United States Customs Service, Department of the Treasury, and in the Russian Federation, the State Customs Committee of the Russian Federation.
  3. "Offense" shall mean any violation of the Customs laws as well as any attempted violation of such laws.
  4. "Person" shall mean any natural or legal person.
  5. "Property" shall mean assets of every kind, whether movable or immovable, tangible or intangible, and legal documents or instruments evidencing title to or an interest in such assets.
  6. "Seizure" or "freezing" means temporarily prohibiting the transfer, conversion, disposition or movement of property, or temporarily assuming custody or control of property on the basis of an order issued by a court, or other competent authority.
  7. "Forfeiture" includes confiscation where applicable, and means the deprivation of property by order of a court or other competent authority.



  1. The Parties shall assist each other through the Customs Administrations to prevent, investigate and repress any offense, in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement.
  2. The Parties affirm their commitment to the facilitation of the legitimate movement of goods and individuals and will, by mutual arrangement of the Customs Administrations, undertake measures to improve customs systems, techniques, and procedures with a view toward achieving that objective in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement.
  3. All assistance under the present Agreement by either Customs Administration shall be performed in accordance with its domestic law.
  4. This Agreement is intended solely for mutual assistance between the Parties; the provisions of this Agreement shall not give rise to a right on the part of any person to obtain, suppress, or exclude any evidence, or to impede in the execution of a request.
  5. This Agreement is without prejudice to mutual assistance practices presently in effect between the Parties.



  1. Assistance provided pursuant to this Agreement shall include the exchange of information necessary to ensure the enforcement of the customs laws and the accurate assessment of customs duties, taxes, and other fees. Such information, provided upon the initiative or request of either Customs Administration, shall include where applicable, but not be limited to:
    1. enforcement actions that might be useful to suppress offenses and, in particular, special means of combating offenses;
    2. new methods used in committing offenses;
    3. observations and findings resulting from the successful application of new enforcement aids and techniques; and
    4. techniques and improved methods of processing goods and individuals.
  2. Assistance as provided in Paragraph 1 of this Article shall

    be provided for use in all proceedings, whether judicial, administrative or investigative, and shall include but not be limited to proceedings on classification, value, origin, and other characteristics relevant to the administration and enforcement of the customs laws, and proceedings involving fines, penalties, forfeitures and liquidated damages.

  3. The Parties, through the Customs Administrations, shall cooperate in:
    1. initiating, developing or improving specific training programs for their personnel;
    2. establishing and maintaining channels of communication between the Customs Administrations to facilitate the secure and rapid exchange of information;
    3. facilitating effective coordination between the Customs Administrations, including the exchange of personnel, experts and the posting of liaison officers;
    4. exchanging information and experience concerning the testing of new equipment or procedures; and
    5. any other general administrative matters that may require their joint action.



  1. Upon request, each Customs Administration shall supply to the other Customs Administration information on whether goods exported from the territory of the country of the requesting Customs Administration have been lawfully imported into the territory of the country of the requested Customs Administration, and the nature of the customs procedure, if any, under which the goods have been placed.
  2. Either Customs Administration, upon request of the other Customs Administration, shall exercise special surveillance of:
    1. means of transport suspected of being used in offenses within the territory of the country of the other Customs Administration;
    2. goods designated by either Customs Administration as the object of an extensive clandestine trade of which it is the country of origin or destination; and
    3. particular persons known or suspected by the requesting Customs Administration of being engaged in an offense.
  3. The Customs Administrations shall, by mutual arrangement, on

    their own initiative or upon request, furnish each other available information:

    1. on persons, goods, or means of transport known or suspected of being involved in offenses or activities which may result in offenses within the territory of the country of the other Customs Administration; and
    2. on activities, planned or completed, which constitute or appear to constitute an offense with respect to goods of major importance to be determined by consultations between the Customs Administrations.

In those circumstances which could involve substantial damage to the economy, public health, public security, or any other vital interest of the country of the other Party, where possible the Customs Administrations shall supply such information without being requested to do so.

4. The Customs Administrations may, by mutual agreement and

arrangement, permit, under their control, the import, export, and transit via the territory of their respective countries of goods involved in illicit traffic in order to suppress such illicit traffic.

5. The Parties shall:

  1. assist each other in proceedings including seizure or freezing, or forfeiture directed at property, proceeds, and instrumentalities involved in offenses related to the customs laws;
  2. dispose of property, proceeds or instrumentalities forfeited as a result of the assistance provided for under this Agreement, in accordance with the law of the country of the Party in control of the property, proceeds or instrumentalities; and
  3. permit either Customs Administration to transfer forfeited property or instrumentalities or the proceeds of their sale, which may be transferred in accordance with laws of the Party to the other Party upon such terms as may be agreed.



  1. The Customs Administrations shall, upon request, provide each other documents including reports, protocols and records, or other evidence, or copies of documents giving all available information on activities, planned or completed, which constitute or appear to constitute an offense.
  2. The Customs Administrations shall, upon request, provide each other documentation relating to transportation and shipment of goods showing value, disposition, and destination of those goods.
  3. Originals of files, documents, and other materials shall be requested only in cases where certified copies would be insufficient. Copies of such files, documents, and other materials shall be appropriately authenticated upon specific request.
  4. Originals of files, documents, and other materials that have been transmitted shall be returned at the earliest opportunity; rights of the requested Party or of third parties relating thereto shall remain unaffected.
  5. Documents stipulated in this Agreement may be replaced by computer-based information produced for the same purpose in any form. All relevant information for the interpretation or utilization of the information shall be supplied at the same time.



  1. Upon request, either Customs Administration shall, except in exceptional circumstances, authorize its officials to appear as experts or witnesses before judicial or administrative authorities in the territory of the country of the other Party. Such officials shall produce such files, documents, or the certified copies thereof, or other materials as may be considered essential for the proceedings. The request for appearance must clearly indicate in what case and what capacity the official is to appear.
  2. Where a Customs official has the right to refuse to give

    evidence or testify, the requested Party will give consideration to the possibility of a waiver of such right under such circumstances as the requested Party determines to be appropriate.



  1. Requests pursuant to the present Agreement shall be made in writing. When required because of the urgency of the situation, oral requests may also be accepted, but shall be promptly confirmed in writing. Relevant information necessary for the execution of such requests shall accompany the request.
  2. Requests made pursuant to the present Agreement should include the following information:
    1. the Customs Administration making the request;
    2. the nature of the proceedings;
    3. the subject of and the reason for the request;
    4. any relevant information regarding the parties concerned in the proceedings, including their names and addresses, if known; and
    5. a brief description of the matter under consideration and the legal elements involved.
  3. Requests shall be made in either the English or the Russian


  4. In the event that a request fails to meet requirements as set forth in this Article, the requesting Customs Administration may be allowed to revise it or supplement it.
  5. In case the requested Customs Administration is not the appropriate agency to comply with a request, it shall promptly transmit the request to the appropriate agency and seek the cooperation of that agency. The requesting Customs Administration shall be so advised.



  1. The requested Customs Administration shall take all reasonable measures to execute the request, and if required, shall endeavor to seek any official or judicial measure necessary to carry out the request.
  2. Either Customs Administration shall, upon the request of the other Customs Administration, conduct all necessary investigations, verifications, or inspections in connection with the matters specified in this Agreement, including the questioning of experts, witnesses, and persons suspected of having committed an offense.
  3. Upon the approval of the requested Customs Administration, officials of the requesting Customs Administration may be present in the territory of the country of the requested Customs Administration at such investigations and, if appropriate, provide any information or assistance with regard to the request for assistance. They must at all times be able to produce documentary evidence of their official authority and must not wear uniforms or carry arms.
  4. A request by a Customs Administration that a certain procedure be followed shall be complied with, subject to the laws of the country of the requested Customs Administration.

5.The requesting Customs Administration shall, if it so requests, be advised of the time and place of the action to be taken in response to the request so that such action may be coordinated.



  1. Information, documents, and other communications received in the course of mutual assistance may only be used for the purposes specified in this Agreement, including use in judicial or administrative proceedings. Such information, documents, and other communications may be used for other purposes only when the supplying Customs Administration has given its express consent.
  2. Requests, information, reports of experts, and any other communications received by either Customs Administration from the other Customs Administration, in whatever form, pursuant to this Agreement shall be afforded the same protection from disclosure by the receiving Customs Administration as is afforded to documents and information of the same kind under the national law of the country of the receiving Customs Administration. The receiving Customs Administration shall ensure the confidentiality of the received information if so requested by the other Customs Administration.
  3. This Article shall not preclude the use or disclosure of information to the extent that there is an obligation to do so under the laws of the country of the requesting Customs Administration in a criminal prosecution. The requesting Customs Administration shall notify the other Customs Administration of any such proposed disclosure in advance.



  1. In cases where the requested Customs Administration is of the opinion that compliance with a request would infringe upon the sovereignty, security, public policy or other substantive interest of its country, assistance may be refused, in whole or in part, or compliance may be made subject to the satisfaction of certain conditions or requirements.
  2. In the event that the request cannot be complied with, the requesting Customs Administration shall be promptly notified of that fact, and provided a statement of the reasons and, where possible, circumstances that might be of importance for the further pursuit of the matter.
  3. If a Customs Administration requests assistance which it would not itself be able to provide, it is to draw attention to that fact in the request. Such a request may be complied with at the discretion of the requested Customs Administration.
  4. Assistance may be postponed by the requested Customs Administration on the ground that it will interfere with an ongoing investigation, prosecution, or proceeding. In such a case, the requested Customs Administration shall consult with the requesting Customs Administration to determine if assistance can be given subject to such terms or conditions as the requested Customs Administration may require.



  1. The Parties shall normally waive all claims for reimbursement of costs incurred in the implementation of this Agreement, with the exception of expenses for witnesses, fees of experts, and costs of interpreters other than government employees.
  2. Expenses connected with cooperation under the provisions of Article 3, Paragraph 3, of this Agreement may be the subject of a separate agreement between the Customs Administrations.
  3. If execution of a request requires considerable expenses, or if they are of an extraordinary nature, the Customs Administrations shall consult to determine the terms and conditions under which the request will be executed as well as the manner in which the costs shall be borne.



  1. Cooperation and mutual assistance provided pursuant to this Agreement shall be rendered directly by the Customs Administrations. The Customs Administrations shall mutually agree on detailed arrangements for that purpose.
  2. The Customs Administrations shall, in particular, but not limited to:
    1. hold regular consultations on matters of cooperation within the framework of this Agreement;
    2. communicate directly for the purpose of dealing with matters arising out of this Agreement;
    3. after consultation, take any measures necessary for the implementation of this Agreement; and
    4. endeavor by mutual accord to resolve problems or

      questions arising from the interpretation or application of the Agreement.



This Agreement shall be applicable in the Customs territory of the United States of America and in the Customs territory of the Russian Federation.



  1. This Agreement shall enter into force 30 days after the date on which the Parties have notified each other through diplomatic channels that the national requirements necessary for the entry into force of the Agreement have been completed.
  2. This Agreement shall supersede and replace the Agreement between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on Cooperation and Mutual Assistance between the Customs Services signed at Washington June 2, 1990, which entered into force for the United States of America and the Russian Federation on December 7, 1993.
  3. This Agreement is concluded for unlimited duration. Either Party may terminate this Agreement at any time by written notification to the other Party through diplomatic channels. The termination of this Agreement shall take effect three months from the date of such notification. Ongoing proceedings at the time of termination shall nonetheless be completed in accordance with the provisions of this Agreement.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the undersigned, being duly authorized by their respective Governments, have signed this Agreement.

DONE in duplicate at this day of , 1994,

in the English and Russian languages, each text being equally authentic.