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New Statute of Commerce

NEW STATUTE OF COMMERCE

The New Commerce Statute (a translation of the Russian Novotorgovy ustav of April 22, 1667; ustav might also be translated as "regulations") was the Russian expression of Western mercantilism and was sponsored by boyarin Afanasy Lavrentievich Ordin-Nashchokin (16051680), a former governor of Pskov, the westernmost of Russia's major cities, who in 1667 was head of the Chancellery of Foreign Affairs. The 1667 document was an expansion of the Commerce Statute (or Regulations) of 1653, which introduced a unified tariff schedule while repealing petty transit duties and increasing protectionist duties against foreigners. The 1667 regulations remained in force until replaced by the Customs Statute of 1755.

The 1667 document regulated both internal trade and trade relations with foreigners. In a 1649 petition to the government, the Russian merchants lamented that they could not compete with the foreign merchants, who were forbidden to engage in internal Russian trade (where they had been giving favorable credit terms to local, smaller Russian merchants) and were restricted to the port cities at times when fairs were being held. The foreigners were accused of selling shoddy goods, which was forbidden. Foreigners were forbidden to sell any goods retail in the provinces or in Moscow, or any Russian goods among themselves upon pain of confiscation of the merchandise. Internal customs duties of 5 percent were to be collected from Russians on sales of weighed goods (ad valorem sales) and 4 percent from unweighed goods. A duty of 10 percent was to be collected on salt and 15 percent on liquor. Excepting liquor, foreigners had to pay a 6 percent duty on their foreign goods sold to authorized Russian wholesalers. A foreigner had to pay a 10 percent export duty, except when he paid for the goods with gold and silver currency. The export of gold and silver from Muscovy was forbidden. Local officials (acknowledged by Moscow as likely to be corrupt) were ordered repeatedly in the statute not to interfere with commerce. Much paperwork was required to ensure compliance with the 1667 regulations.

See also: foreign trade; merchants; ordin-nashchokin, afanasy lavrentievich.

bibliography

Hellie, Richard, ed. and tr. (1967). Readings for Introduction to Russian Civilization. Chicago: Syllabus Division, The College, University of Chicago.

Richard Hellie

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