5 December 2009
Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan approved a customs code and a single customs tariff for their emergent customs union, Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said on 27 November. The code is coming into force on 1 July 2010, and the tariff on 1 January of that year, TCA reports.
"All the decisions were approved on the basis of equality, of respect for the sovereignty of all the members, and of the benefit of all of them," Nazarbayev told a news conference after a Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) summit in Minsk, Belarus. He expressed hope that those decisions would "clear the way to the next stage of integration, a unified economic space".
"The EurAsEC is the only post-Soviet organization which rapidly develops integration," Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said after the summit. "The organization will mark its tenth anniversary in 2010, and the creation of the Customs Union will be the best way to celebrate," he said.
Moscow is interested in the soonest formation of a common economic space with Belarus and Kazakhstan, Medvedev said.
"An action plan of the formalization of the common economic space will be ready in a month. We want to do this work as quickly as possible," he added. The Customs Union would be a more attractive market for investment than its three member countries have been individually, Kazakh President Nazarbayev said. Simultaneously, "there will be higher competition in the markets of all the three countries, which should affect the quality of goods produced there", he added.
"The establishment of a Belarusian-Russian-Kazakh customs union will enable the three countries to have GDP growth over 15% by 2015," Nazarbayev said. The Customs Union sets up a market with a population of 170 million people, aggregate industrial potential of $600 billion, oil reserves of 90 billion barrels, and agricultural production of $112 billion.
The three countries' aggregate GDP makes up $2 trillion and aggregate trade $900 billion, Nazarbayev said.
"The common effect from setting up the Customs Union is $400 billion for Russia and $16 billion for Belarus and Kazakhstan," he said.
"The common $2-trillion market will be appealing to investors," Nazarbayev said. Nazarbayev also said that the Customs Union may take the lead on the grain market. "Our three countries are responsible for 17% of the world's wheat exports," he said.
Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have announced their intention to join the Customs Union. "Kyrgyzstan will do everything possible to make the necessary decisions for joining the Customs Union," Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiyev told a news conference following the EurAsEC Interstate Council summit.
Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon said that Tajikistan intends to take part in the establishment of the Customs Union and the common economic area within the EurAsEC as an observer.
"Tajikistan favors the full-scale establishment of a customs union and a common economic area and will participate in this work as an observer," Rakhmon said at the press conference.
EurAsEC anti-crisis fund
Presidents of Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) member countries – Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan – will meet in Almaty on December 18 to discuss the formation of a common economic space, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said at the summit on 27 November.
"We will gather together in Almaty on 18 December and decide when the common economic space would be formed," he said.
Russia will transfer $750 million to the EurAsEC Anti-Crisis Fund by the end of this year, Russian Vice-Premier and Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said. The founding countries will complete the ratification process in the near future, and every one of them will transfer 10% of the fee, Kudrin said. The Eurasian Bank for Reconstruction and Development will manage the money, he noted.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have officially confirmed their intention to use the Anti-Crisis Fund, Kudrin said. "We know that the majority of member countries will use this fund. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have confirmed their intentions," he said.
"A mechanism for considering the applications has not been developed, but it will correspond to terms offered by similar development funds," Kudrin said.