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Russian deputies suspend Treaty on Free Trade Zone with Ukraine

December 22, 2015, 19:40 UTC+3
The bill had to be adopted because the economic part of Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU is coming into force and Russia needs to protect its own economic interests, State Duma speaker says
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© Alexander Shalgin/Russian State Duma press service/TASS

MOSCOW, December 22 /TASS/. The Russian Duma on Tuesday voted unanimously for a bill suspending the Treaty on creation of a free trade zone with Ukraine as of January 1, 2016.

"We have to adopt this bill because the economic part of Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the European Union is coming 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 with 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 the application of 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.

"The Ukrainian side is practically abandoning the development of trade and economic cooperation within the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and chooses a path of advancement towards comprehensive integration with the European Union," the explanatory note said. Tariff liberalization provided for by Ukraine’s agreement with the European Union will inflict considerable damage on Russian economy.

Besides, Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the European Union contradicts the duty free trade provision of the Free Trade Zone Treaty. "The current situation makes it necessary to adopt immediate measures to suspend Russia’s Treaty with Ukraine…It fully meets [Russia’s] interests and is in line with Russian laws," the explanatory note said.

According to Leonid Slutsky, the head of the Russian State Duma Committee for CIS Affairs, 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.

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