Tariffs. Duties on goods that are carried across borders, or fees for the use of roads, bridges, ports, or market facilities. In the past duties were primarily a source of government income, but in recent times they have become an instrument for protecting industry from foreign competition. Duties in Ukraine are first mentioned in the 9th century. They were negotiated in treaties between Kyivan Rus’ and Byzantium in the 10th century. The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth had quite a complex system of tariffs. Duties (myto) included various trade fees exacted by the state, community, church, or private individuals (whether legally or not). Tariffs collected at borders from foreign traders were called customs duties (tslo). They were collected by special customs houses, which first appeared in the 13th century. Besides customs duties there were internal duties collected at the boundaries of localities, cities, and marketplaces.
The Hetman state of the 17th and 18th centuries had a more organized system of tariffs than did the Princely era. Beginning with Bohdan Khmelnytsky's rule the state treasury collected customs duties at the borders through the military exactor or tax farmers. There were two kinds of duties, import duties (inducta) and export duties (evecta). Khmelnytsky's universal of 28 April 1654 imposed a state duty on foreign goods and appointed a special collector. But the government exempted local traders—Ukrainians and foreigners, particularly Greeks—and even foreign merchants from those duties. Khmelnytsky also tried to free Ukrainian trade abroad from the tariffs of other governments (eg, in the treaty with Turkey at the beginning of the 1650s). Internal duties were levied by the government or by various communities—towns or monasteries—which were granted the right to levy by the government. Private duties were rather rare in the Hetman state. With some modifications the system persisted to the middle of the 18th century. Beginning with Peter I the Russian government used duties to further its imperial policies in Ukraine. A series of important changes in the Hetmanate system of duties was introduced. In 1754 the tariff border between Russia and Ukraine was abolished, and Ukraine lost its tariff autonomy.
The Russian customs law of 1767 prohibited the importation from abroad of the kind of products that were manufactured within the Russian Empire, including Ukraine, and imposed heavy duties on other imported goods. In 1850 and 1877 the customs duties were greatly lowered, and various products were imported from Europe into Ukraine. At the same time foreign competitors, especially German, undermined the development of industrial enterprises in Ukraine. In 1877 the Russian government returned to protectionist policies. From then until the Revolution of 1917 customs duties increased; they reached 33–100 percent of the value of the goods imported. To some extent such policies promoted the rapid growth of industry in Ukraine during the period.
In 1918 the Hetman government re-established the tariff border between Ukraine and Russia. In the first half of 1919 the government of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic officially recognized the tariff border between Ukraine and the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic. Later the border was abolished again.
The customs duties between the Ukrainian SSR and countries not belonging to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were determined by the USSR Ministry of Foreign Trade on the basis of the customs code adopted on 5 May 1964 (until then the 1928 code was in force). The duties were collected by the Main Customs Administration (Holovne mytne upravlinnia), which was in charge of the customs offices in Odesa, Lviv, Chernivtsi, Uzhhorod, Kyiv, and Brest, with their departments at the border control stations.
Vsevolod Holubnychy, Oleksander Ohloblyn
[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 5 (1993).]