Customs Union Leaders Discuss Integration in Moscow

PresidentsKazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko met March 5 in Moscow to discuss Customs Union and Common Economic Space integration, as well as progress on the Eurasian Economic Union establishment treaty. The discussions were held during the leaders’ attendance of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council.

President Nazarbayev updated the council on recent progress of the most recent meeting of council representatives in Astana.

“I examined carefully the documents and believe our experts have done well. I hope we can come to a consensus on all disputed issues. We need to comply with the planned schedule and the governments of member states should do more to explain the benefits of integration, which is being conducted for the good of our peoples,” Nazarbayev said.

The President noted the treaty establishing the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), expected to be signed in May 2014, consists of two parts: institutional and functional.

“According to the first part, an international economic organisation is to be created. We agreed on the equal representation of the parties in the Union organs. The decisions of the heads of state shall be binding for all other bodies. As for the functional part, we must first create an economic union,” the Kazakh President said.

President Nazarbayev urged the gathering to reach consensus on remaining issues and to hold another session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in April.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have been consistently moving towards integration, which has already yielding positive results.

“Despite the global economy slowdown in 2013, the turnover within the three countries did not decrease, but increased slightly, reaching $64.1 billion. Russia appreciates the constructive, equal and open relationships that have developed in the economy between our countries,” he said, adding it is time to draw up an agreement on Armenia’s accession to the EEU, which should be formed in 2015.

“Armenia has adopted and is successfully implementing the plan of actions for adaptation to the norms of the Customs Union and Unified Economic Space. So we believe it is possible to prepare the accession deal,” the Russian President said.

In conclusion, Putin stressed the importance of continued assistance to Kyrgyzstan, which also intends to join the Union.

The Belarus President emphasised the effort to create the EEU should not repeat the mistakes of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

“We need to make appropriate decisions and extensively move towards our economic union,” Lukashenko noted.

Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Viktor Khristenko, who also attended the session, reported on progress to prepare the agreement at various levels.

“The readiness of a large number of Customs Union regulations concerning the tariff, non-tariff, and trade policies is 99 percent. Only several things are left for the experts to wrap up,” Khristenko said.

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