In brief: Acer was one of the many companies around the world to promise a suspension of sales in Russia following the country's invasion of Ukraine. However, according to a new report, the Taiwan-based firm shipped at least $70.4 million worth of computer hardware to Russia between April 8, 2022, and March 31, 2023.
On April 8 last year, Acer said that due to recent developments, the company had decided to suspend business in Russia. A move also made by Dell, Intel, Nvidia, AMD, HP, and many other tech giants.
But it seems that Acer hasn't adhered to its pledge. According to customs data acquired by Reuters, Acer's wholly-owned subsidiary registered in Switzerland, Acer Sales International SA, has been supplying equipment and services to Russia through various delivery services.
Acer's actions were not illegal. By shipping the hardware out of Switzerland, it did not violate Taiwan's export sanctions against Russia. Nor were the items restricted by Switzerland's export sanctions, which mirror the European Union's.
Acer in Taiwan said it strictly adheres to international trade laws and regulations 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 it had supplied a limited number of displays and accessories to the Russian market for civilian daily use while ensuring compliance with international sanctions. The company never explained why it shipped these goods to Russia after saying it would stop last April.
Additionally, a Reuters source familiar with the details of the shipments claims Acer shipped both monitors and laptops to Russia after April 2022. EU sanctions allowed the export of laptops and components to Russia until December 16, 2022. There were no deliveries of newly prohibited Acer products to Russia after that date.
Acer added that Russian importers could have sourced some of its products from other countries.
Russia had been a massive market for Acer before the invasion of Ukraine. According to IDC, the company accounted for 18.5% of all PCs sold in Russia during the fourth quarter of 2021. For comparison, HP and Dell made up a combined 20.8%.
Guess I won't be buying any Acer products any longer… don't want to deal with a company dealing with Russia.– David Laroche (@dlaroche) June 8, 2023
"Exclusive: Taiwan's Acer ships computer hardware to Russia after saying it would suspend business -data" - Reuters https://t.co/mUqZh5OKrD
While Acer's actions might not have been against the law, this will be a PR black eye for the company, with some customers promising not to buy its products anymore.
Sanctions against Russia have led it to secure imports from friendly countries. It uses the Chinese gray market for chip imports, though a report in October found that around 40 % of them are defective, marking a 1,900% increase in their failure rate over the previous few months.