Taiwanese computer manufacturer Acer continued to ship computer hardware to Russia, customs data shows, despite its pledge last year to halt its business there in light of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
Acer shipped goods worth $70.4 million to Russia between April 8, 2022 and March 31, 2023, in contrast to key Western rivals such as Dell and HP. The two halted their Russia shipments in February and April 2022, respectively.
Equipment produced by Acer was supplied to Russia both through the firm’s wholly-owned subsidiary in Switzerland and a number of delivery services by order of that subsidiary.
As the shipments originated outside Taiwan, they did not violate Taipei’s sanctions against Russia. Nor did they involve items restricted at the time of export by Switzerland’s sanctions regime, which mirrors that of the European Union.
But in a statement on April 8 last year, the company said: “Due to recent developments, Acer has decided to suspend its business in Russia.”
Asked about subsequent exports to Russia via Swiss subsidiary Acer Sales International SA, Acer in Taiwan said in a statement that “we strictly adhere to applicable international regulations and trade laws regarding exports to Russia”.
It added that the Swiss subsidiary “had not shipped any laptops or desktops to Russia since April 8 last year”, but that it had supplied a “limited number of displays and accessories to the Russian market for civilian daily use while ensuring compliance with international sanctions”.
Acer did not say why it continued shipping its goods to Russia despite saying it would suspend business there.
A source familiar with details of the shipments said Acer’s products, including PC monitors and laptops, continued to be shipped to Russia after April 2022.
Reuters was unable to establish where some Acer goods that can still be found on sale in Russia had originated from nor when they had arrived in the country.
Swiss sanctions, in line with the EU’s, allowed the export of laptop computers and computing components to Russia until December 16, 2022. There were no deliveries of the newly prohibited items by Acer to Russia from Switzerland after that date.
The company said it was possible that importers in Russia sourced Acer devices from third countries.
Acer’s Russian unit, in response to emailed questions, said “nothing has changed” since the April 2022 statement.
Acer accounted for 18.5% of all PCs sold in Russia in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to consulting company IDC Russia, while HP and Dell made up a combined 20.8%.
The shipments underline how, despite international sanctions aimed at limiting Russians’ access to technology and equipment, foreign-made goods remain available to consumers.
Artem Zhavoronkov, a partner at St Petersburg-based law firm Nordic Star, said Acer risked reputational damage by continuing shipments to Russia.
Russian customs data shows at least 744 shipments of Acer’s products entered Russia between April 8, 2022 and March 31, 2023, compared with 3,735 in the year earlier period for a total of $244.3 million.
In monetary terms, shipments fell 71%, according to the data, with laptops and PC monitors making up the bulk of shipments.
Taiwan announced it would join sanctions against Russia on February 25, 2022, with a special export permit required for technological goods on a government-compiled list.
Taiwan’s Economy Ministry said high performance electronics, including monitors, displays and laptops are included on this list and applications for export “in principle will not be approved”.
The ministry said that as of end-March 2023 Acer had not applied for such permits, and there are no Taiwanese customs records of Acer exports to Russia. The ministry declined to comment further.
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