Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus to form customs union

On Nov. 27, the presidents of Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia announced at a summit of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) in Minsk that their three nations will form a customs union, which will remove trade barriers between their markets and stimulate their economies.

Madi Asanov

2009-12-07

ASTANA — On Nov. 27, the presidents of Kazakhstan, Belarus and Russia announced at a summit of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) in Minsk that the three nations would form a customs union to remove trade barriers between their markets and stimulate their economies. The agreement will come into effect on July 1, 2010 and the union’s member states have already indicated that several other countries will join in the near future.

The creation of a single customs zone will eliminate customs checkpoints along the borders between the three countries. Common rates and a single non-tariff trade control system will be implemented along the outer frontiers of the union. Customs tariffs, which are currently set on the basis of Russian tariff decisions, will be adjusted by a Customs Union committee.

The Kazakh president spoke of the benefits that the Customs Union would bring to each of its members. He estimates that it will enable Russia to increase its customs revenues by up to US$400 billion, while Belarus and Kazakhstan stand to earn an additional $16 billion or so each. The Customs Union will form the basis for the creation of a single economic region, the Kazakh leader asserts. The legal framework for this area should be completed by 2011. Nazarbayev believes that the creation of the Customs Union will enable its member states “to boost their GDP by 15 percent [annually] by 2015.”

The president of Belarus, Aleksandr Lukashenko, said that Belarus had become a venue for momentous decisions ever since the day in 1991 when the dissolution of the Soviet Union was announced in the Belavezha Forest. President Medvedev commented that unlike the events of 18 years ago, things were now moving in the opposite direction.

“New states came into being after the Belavezha Accords, but now the Customs Union has been created. This is the first time that we have agreed to transfer a part of our national sovereignty to a supranational body,” Medvedev stated.

Nazarbayev said that Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan were already interested in joining the Union. “I think the fact that Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan want to join the Customs Union is a very auspicious sign. We, the three member states of the Customs Union, must demonstrate the advantageousness of this measure in practice,” he said.

[KT.kz, Ak-Orda.kz, Reuters.ru, RIAN.ru]

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