Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan strike deal on customs bloc

Presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed on Friday a package of documents setting up a single customs union effective from Jan. 1, 2010, Russian media reported.

The documents were signed at a summit of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) that groups ex-Soviet nations, which was held in Minsk, capital of Belarus, on Friday.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the documents included the Customs Code, a decision to establish a collective insurance market, as well as basic principles and forms for cooperation in controlling the external borders of the planned single customs bloc.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said the three countries have also agreed to establish a common customs space within the framework of the customs bloc, effective from July 1, 2010.

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev said he expected the single customs union to take the lead on global energy and grain markets.

Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan agreed in early June to form a customs bloc and seek joint accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO).

After the summit Medvedev said Russia would continue its bid to join the trade organization, and would synchronize its position with Belarus and Kazakhstan on whether to seek WTO accession separately or jointly as part of the customs bloc.

Russia, which has been seeking WTO membership for more than 15 years, is the largest economy remaining outside the global trade watchdog.


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