You can order from Amazon in Iraq but not Russia

Herbert Mosmuller of the Moscow Times reports on telling discrepancy:  The world’s biggest online retailer, Amazon.com, offers shipping to practically anywhere around the world, from Antarctica to Zimbabwe. Even people craving an iPad 2 or a Justin Bieber album in war-torn and isolated countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Myanmar can check the box for standard or expedited shipping. But not in Russia. More precisely, Russians get order items ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.

Herbert Mosmuller of the Moscow Times reports on telling discrepancy

Herbert Mosmuller of the Moscow Times reports on telling discrepancy

The world’s biggest online retailer, Amazon.com, offers shipping to practically anywhere around the world, from Antarctica to Zimbabwe.

Even people craving an iPad 2 or a Justin Bieber album in war-torn and isolated countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Myanmar can check the box for standard or expedited shipping.

But not in Russia.

More precisely, Russians get order items with priority shipping, which is expensive and doesn’t cover all items. The reason, not surprisingly, is red tape: 

An astounding 13 forms need to be filled out for a shipping container from the United States to enter Russia, according to a World Bank investigation last year. By comparison, fellow BRICS nation India requires nine forms, while Mexico seeks five and France two.

Moreover, it takes an average of 36 days and $1,850 to get a container from the United States to Russia. These shipping troubles landed Russia in a dismal 166th place among 183 countries on the World Bank’s Trading Across Borders list.

The story is not entirely without it’s silver lining. The delays have created a small cottage industry of companies that specialize in shipping items to Russia. The market finds a way. 

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

Tag: Russia

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