Establishment of Russian-Belarusian-Kazakh customs union to strengthenRussia - Lukashenko

MINSK. Nov 24 (Interfax) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko believes the establishment of a Russian-Belarusian-Kazakh customs union will above all strengthen Russia's positions.

"The customs union that we are about to establish any day now will double or even triple the Russian Federation's positions. This is above all powerful support for Russia, and we really hope that Belarus and Kazakhstan will not find themselves on the periphery of this customs union," Lukashenko said at a meeting with the managers of state-run news agencies from the CIS countries in Minsk on Tuesday.

"We confirm that we will unify all customs tariffs and approach the establishment of a common economic area within half a year. The establishment of a common economic area is success indeed," he said.

Commenting on problems that emerge from time to time in trade between Belarus and Russia, Lukashenko suggested that this happens because Russia cannot compete with the Belarusian economy, Lukashenko said.

"These milk and sugar wars with Russia, as they are called in the media, are not because Belarus has crushed Russia. As a matter of fact, after we have modernized our industry, Russia is no longer a competitor for us," Lukashenko said.

Belarus "expects another tranche of an IMF loan amounting to $800 million" in the near future, Lukashenko said. "We are taking this money not to spend it on food but to replenish our gold and foreign currency reserves, to make a kind of safety cushion so that our national currency should not collapse," he said.


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