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Customs Union Agreed With Belarus, Kazakhstan

Published: December 1, 2009 (Issue # 1531)


MOSCOW Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan on Friday gave the go-ahead for the creation of a united customs union, whose tariff regime will be based largely on the one that Russia currently has in place.

President Dmitry Medvedev met with his counterparts Alexander Lukashenko and Nursultan Nazarbayev in Minsk on Friday, where they agreed to the creation of a unified customs tariff, which will start Jan. 1, as well as a unified customs code, which will go into effect July 1.

This is a very significant and long-awaited event, which has come into being through very difficult negotiations, Medvedev told a news conference after the meeting, Interfax reported.

About 92 percent of the new tariff regime is based on current Russian duties, First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said.

And as Russia has, on average, the highest tariffs of the group, that means that Kazakhstan and Belarus will be raising duties on a wide swathe of items.

We had to agree with our partners on lowering certain customs tariffs on certain groups of goods, and our partners had to raise certain tariffs, Shuvalov said, adding that Kazakhstan had to raise tariffs on more than 5,000 items.

This is a difficult process. It was necessary to make compromises in order to ensure all the decisions could go into effect starting Jan. 1, he said.

But with Russia as the largest external market for both Belarus and Kazakhstan, raising tariffs remains a lucrative bet for both countries.

The creation of the customs union of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan will allow the three countries to raise their gross domestic product 15 percent by 2015, Nazarbayev said. A common market with a GDP of $2 trillion will be attractive for investors.

Nevertheless, there are still several sore points remaining in the formation of a unified customs tariff, said Alexei Portansky, head of the information office for Russias WTO bid.

These sore points will affect the economies of each of the three countries for example, the customs duties on cars in Belarus, which are lower than those in Russia, Portansky told The St. Petersburg Times.

The countries still havent agreed to a set of automobile tariffs, but the Russian side is concerned that the tentative plan for duties would lead to a flood of used cars from Belarus and Kazakhstan and crush the domestic auto market.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Aug. 21


Time is running out to see the fantastic creations on display at the 2014 Sand Castle Festival on the beach at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Adhering to the theme of Treasure Island, visitors can wander amongst larger-than-life interpretations of pirate life or attend one of the workshops held to educate a future generation of sand artists. The castles will remain on the beach until Aug. 31.



Friday, Aug. 22


Get ready to pledge allegiance to the flag during National Flag Day, paying tribute to when, 23 years ago today, the iconic hammer-and-sickle was replaced with the tricolor that now flutters in the wind. Petersburgers will be treated to a free concert on Palace Square, a military parade and a culminating air show featuring Russias Russian Knights stunt pilots.



Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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