Belarus parliament ratifies customs union rules-source

MINSK June 30 (Reuters) - Lawmakers in Belarus on Wednesday ratified a document required for entry into a customs union with Russia and Kazakhstan, a source close to parliament said.

However, a top government official said no decision has been made yet on membership of the trading bloc.

Russia and Kazakhstan agreed in late May to launch the customs union on July 1 without Belarus after negotiations with Minsk stalled when Moscow refused to abolish export duties on oil -- a dispute followed by an angry standoff over gas prices.

The Belarus parliament ratified a Customs Code for the union at a closed session, the source said on condition of anonymity. Russia's state-run RIA news agency cited parliamentary sources as saying legislators ratified the code.

There was no announcement, and the decision on whether to join the Customs Union rests with President Alexander Lukashenko.

First Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Semashko said on Wednesday that decision would not come before July 5, when Lukashenko is expected to meet with the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan in Kazakhstan.

The trading bloc is expected to boost Moscow's influence in the region, but the plans have complicated Russia's negotiations to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).

(Reporting by Andrei Makhovsky, writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Andrew Hay)


Partners: Social Network