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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 Russia’s 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 haven’t 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

Saturday, Dec. 20


The city’s Babushkina Park on Prospekt Obukhovskoy Oborony will be invaded by dozens of rocking-and-rolling Santa Clauses during today’s Santa Claus Parade. Not only will they parade through the park but there will also be competitions amongst the festively-clad participants and a musical master class. There will also be a prize for the best-dressed Santa Claus.


Add to your record collection during the Vinyl Christmas Sale at the KL10TCH bar on Konyushennaya Ploshchad today. Spend the afternoon perusing the records for sale while listening the classic, clean sound of records spinning out hits from a variety of musical genres and time periods.



Sunday, Dec. 21


The Zenit St. Petersburg basketball team returns to the northern capital this evening for a matchup with Krasny Oktyabr, a Volgograd-based basketball club. Tickets for the game, which tips off at 6 p.m. this evening, can be purchased on the club’s website or at their arena, Sibur Arena, on Krestovsky island.


Satisfy your sugar cravings during Sweet New Year, an ongoing seasonal festival at the Raduga shopping center. Each weekend of December will welcome hungry visitors to taste hundreds of different kinds of desserts made from a plethora of sweet treats. Workshops are open to visitors and seasonal gifts can also be purchased for those rushing to finish their New Year shopping.



Monday, Dec. 22


Pick out the latest fashions as holiday gifts for loved ones or as early presents for yourself during the Christmas Design Sale at Kraft on Obvodny Kanal, starting on Dec. 20 and continuing through Dec. 27. Designer clothes will be on sale every day of the week or you can buy something more festive to decorate the home while sipping on hot coffee and perusing the various master classes.



Tuesday, Dec. 23


Meet Arctic explorers Fedor Konukhov and Viktor Simonov during SPIBA’s and Capital Legal Service’s event “Arctic Expedition” this morning in the Mertens House business center at 21 Nevsky Prospekt. The meeting will discuss the explorers’ ongoing eco-social project and how companies can use the project as a unique marketing opportunity. Email office@spiba.ru by Dec. 22 if you wish to attend.



Wednesday, Dec. 24


The Anglican Church of St. Petersburg we will be holding a Christmas Eve service at 7 p.m. led by Rev Wm. Shepley Curtis of the Episcopal Church. The service will be held at the Swedish Church at 1/3 Malaya Konyushennaya Ulitsa.



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