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EAEC Customs Service begins banning Ukrainian exports to Russia — ministry

December 23, 2015, 14:59 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The Russian State Duma on Tuesday, December 22, voted unanimously in favor of a draft law suspending the creation of a free trade zone between Russia and Ukraine starting from January 1, 2016

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© Alexander Khitrov/BelTA/TASS

MOSCOW, December 23. /TASS/. Customs offices of the Eurasian Economic Community (EAEC) started to implement the presidents’ instructions on organizing community of close cooperation on banning the export of Ukrainian goods to the Russian Federation from the territory of other countries of the EAEC, Russian First Deputy Minister of Economic Development Alexey Likhachev said Wednesday.

"It is important that the presidents [of the EAEC countries — TASS] on Monday [at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council — TASS] gave the command, and we have already started to implement it on Tuesday — organizing tighter cooperation between the customs services on banning any Ukrainian exports from other territories, whether it is Kazakhstan or Belarus," he said.

According to Likhachev, a plan of specific actions on consolidating informationn cooperation between customs authorities is already adopted. "In this sense, we see a very great support from our partners in the Eurasian integration," he said.

He noted that the partners in the CIS and EAEC are "sympathetic" to the intention of Russia to suspend free trade zone agreement with Ukraine from January 1, 2016. "We saw a clear positive reaction of the Belarusian side to this, and more philosophical position of Kazakhstan, positions of Kyrgyzstan and Armenia are rather reserved, but generally on the Russian side," Likhachev said. He added that this issue was discussed in the CIS platform. "Countries such as Moldova and Azerbaijan are more inclined to consider it as a bilateral format and watch our discussions," he said.

All of Russia's suggestions declined by partners at Ukraine-EU association talks

Russia's partners on negotiations on Ukraine's association with the EU have declined all of its suggestions in a "weird approach", Russia's Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukaev told journalists.

"We were told that anything [Russia wants] is impossible, all of Russia's suggestions — impossible. Yet Russia can be subjected to demands. And this is what our colleagues call flexibility. It is a weird approach, non-economic, exclusively political. Of course we cannot agree to that," Ulyukaev said.

Ulyukaev said Russia’s partners in the talks suggested keeping the zero-tariff and free-trade zone parameters for Ukraine, but Russia’s counter-offer of gradual technical regulation change was declined. He added Russia’s proposal to keep current veterinary certificates, allowing Russian companies to keep supplying Ukraine, was also refused. Another suggestion declined by Russia’s partners was customs information exchange to distinguish Ukrainian and EU goods.

Provisions of Ukraine’s association agreement with the European Union on the formation of a free trade zone come into effect on January 1, 2016. On October 30, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that Ukraine could not take part in two free trade zones concurrently — the one with the European Union and the one within the Commonwealth of Independent State (CIS).

The Russian State Duma on Tuesday, December 22, voted unanimously in favor of a draft law suspending the creation of a free trade zone between Russia and Ukraine starting from January 1, 2016.

"We have to adopt this bill because the economic part of Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the European Union has come into force and we need to protect Russia’s economic interests," Russian State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin told journalists.

Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted a federal draft law on suspension by Russia of the Treaty on creation of a free trade zone in Ukraine on December 17. According to the explanatory note, the bill suspends the most favoured nation treatment regime in trade relations with Ukraine with an aim to remove threats to Russia’s economic security.

The enclosures said that the application the trade and economic section of Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the European Union as of January 1, 2016, had radically changed the circumstances, which were crucial for Russia when it concluded the treaty with Ukraine.

According to Leonid Slutsky, the head of the Russian State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, the Eurasian Integration and Relations with Compatriots, the Putin-proposed draft law has a reversible effect. "If the situation in Ukraine gets back to normal - and we believe that our relations will be restored - a decision to renew the free trade zone treaty will be one of the first in the inter-state relations between Moscow and Kiev. But for the moment it is necessary to support the president’s decision," Slutsky stressed.

Putin signed a decree on suspending the Treaty on creation of a free trade zone with Ukraine as of January 1, 2016 because of exceptional circumstances, which touch Russia’s interests and economic stability and require the adoption of immediate measures. At his annual news conference held on December 17, Putin said that Russia was not planning to impose any sanctions on Kiev but Ukraine would lose its trade preferences in relations with Russia because of the termination of the free trade zone treaty.

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