Belarus to join customs union on July 1 despite ongoing disputes

Belarus will join the customs union with Russia and Kazakhstan on July 1 despite some ongoing disputes, Economics Minister Nikolay Snopkov said Friday.

"The meeting between Balarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov has confirmed the assertion that the sides intend to settle their issues and enter into a customs area by July 1," Snopkov said.

To date Russia and Belarus remained unable to reach an agreement over tariffs on oil and petroleum imports.

The importation of foreign cars and aircraft into the Union's custom territory were also among the disputed issues, according to previous reports.

The Russian Economic Development Ministry confirmed that the customs union code will run fully by July 1 despite recent statements by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that that was unlikely.

Putin said late last month that Russia and Kazakhstan would formally launch the Code of the customs union starting July 1 on the bilateral basis without the participation of Belarus.

In 2009, mutual trade between the two countries decreased by 31 percent, but recovered in the first quarter this year.

Nearly half of Belarusian imports came from Russia.

The three former Soviet republics signed an agreement on the establishment of the customs union on Nov. 27, 2009. The union started formally on Jan. 1, but could not work fully due to the disputed issues and the awaiting ratification of the customs code.


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