Soon after the new private terminal was built in 2011, government officials created a new state Southern Customs branch at Euroterminal. A growing share of the country’s imports of food, consumer goods and other essentials, delivered through Ukraine’s largest sea terminal, now goes through this private business.
Ukraine’s state customs service, notoriously corrupt and cumbersome, has long been a sore point for businesses. According to the World Bank’s latest Doing Business ranking, the customs service is among the most difficult to deal with in the world, scoring a dismal 145th out of 185 economies surveyed for ease of trade across borders. Importers who tried to go through the state port could wait months for customs clearance, unless they paid expensive brokers connected to port management to expedite the delivery.
Valeriy Lokaychuk, the Odesa Oblast Council member and deputy head of its organized crime and corruption commission, said Euroterminal has effectively replaced the old system. However, at present, it is not clear if importers still can use the state-owned sea terminals for clearing their cargo. OCCRP reporters called the office at the sea port and were told all customs must now be cleared through Euroterminal. The website, however, still indicates customs can be done at the sea port.