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Integration can help deal with challenges and soften blows – Kazakh PM

November 24, 2011, 2:02 UTC+3

Combined trade turnover of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which form the Customs Union, will exceed 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2011

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ASTANA, November 24 (Itar-Tass) —— Integration can help overcome challenges and soften blows if handled in a balanced manner, Kazakhstani Prime Minister Karim Masimov said.

“The global economy has seen better times. We can see the problems facing the Euro zone and the European Union,” he said at the 3rd economic forum “Expetr-100-Kazakhstan” on Wednesday, November 23.

In his opinion, politically-motivated decisions made earlier during the formation of the EU without sound economic reasons, specifically the extension of the same monetary policy to countries with different levels of development, “created very big problems that have not been resolved so far”.

“We should take into account both positive and negative EU experience when carrying out our activities and when discussing problems and solving questions,’ Masimov said.

He recalled that at their latest meeting, the Customs Union heads of state had made the decision to create a joint working group at the level of ministers of economics in order to discuss concrete steps “that have to be taken in order to help our economies and our business deal with the problems that are moving over here from the developed world”.

“Our economic have to respond with a proper and timely economic policy in order to tackle this tide effectively,” he added.

Speaking of integration, Masimov said Russia and Kazakhstan are close to joining the World Trade Organisation, but the principles of global competition and involvement in global process should not run counter to integration association, such as the Common Economic Space (CES).

“On the contrary, they complement each other,” he said. “I think the creation of the CES, of which we are a member, is very timely and will help overcome the challenges we are facing the soften the blows we have yet to take,” Masimov said.

The Common Economic Space is expected to become operational from January 1, 2012.

On July 1, 2011, control over the movement of goods between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan ceased to exist and the three countries had formed a common customs system.

“The economy responded to the creation of the Customs Union immediately and mutual trade among the three countries increased by a third after a year of its operation, reaching 108 billion U.S. dollars,” Putin noted.

Combined trade turnover of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which form the Customs Union, will exceed 100 billion U.S. dollars in 2011.

The Customs Union became fully functional on July 1 when internal borders were removed and shifted to the external ones.

Russian Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko attributes a considerable increase in the combined trade turnover of more than 40 percent in the first half of 2011 to the operation of the Customs Union.

“In 2009, these three countries generated 73 billion U.S. dollars [worth of trade turnover], 88 billion in 2010, and we are confident that we will go above 100 billion U.S. dollars this year. It will be a psychological barrier,” he said, adding, “These are not only energy resources but the whole array of goods”.

The next stage in the development of the Customs Union is the entry into force of a set of signed and ratified agreements on the Common Economic Space from January 1, 2012.

According to Khristenko, the set includes more than 100 international agreements.

“A document specifying the powers and executive bodies of the Eurasian Economic Community will have to be ready by January 1,” he said.

“The document is being actively worked on; several rounds of talks have been held, but there are nuances,” the minister added.

“This is an absolutely feasible task in terms of time, and there is tremendous interest on all sides,” he said.

“What is important is that there should an interest. Then this integration body will take the right shape and will benefit our citizens in the best possible way,” Khristenko said.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin earlier called for ratifying the agreements on the Common Economic Space by July 1.

“It is necessary to ensure ratification of the agreements that form the legal framework for the Common Economic Space in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan by July 1,” Putin said.

There are more than 70 documents for the Common Economic Space (CES).

“All this large-scale work should be done without a hitch so that a common market can start operating from January 1, 2012,” the prime minister said.

He also noted that Russia was facing a complex task of forming supranational CES bodies. “This issue should be handled in the most responsible manner,” he cautioned the ministries.

“For the first time ever we can see real integration taking part in the post-Soviet space on a modern basis and taking into account the interests of all partners. We should watch the balance of interests very closely,” he said.

Russia and Kazakhstan ratified agreements on the common economic space (CES) by July 1, 2011.

Belarus ratified all agreements on the common economic space in December 2010.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed documents providing a regulatory framework for the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space (CES) among the three states.

They met at a session of the Interstate Council of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) -the highest body of the Customs Union – in December 2010.

Medvedev, Lukashenko and Nazarbayev set the task of ensuring that all the documents on the creation of the Common Economic Space (CES) enter into force by January 1, 2012.


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