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Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia

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Title: Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia  
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Subject: Customs union, Economic and monetary union, Free trade area, Passport, Single market, Commonwealth of Independent States, Trade agreement, Trade bloc, European integration, Subregion
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Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia

Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan
Political centres
Working language Russian
Member states
 -  Total 20,007,860 km2
12,432,307 sq mi
 -  2010 estimate 167,454,573
 -  Density 8.36/km2
13.46/sq mi
GDP (PPP) 2012 IMF estimate
 -  Total $2.952 trillion
 -  Per capita $17,629
GDP (nominal) 2012 IMF estimate
 -  Total $2.307 trillion
 -  Per capita $13,747

The Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia came into existence on January 1, 2010[1] between the states of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia. The Customs Union was launched as a first step towards forming a broader European Union-type economic alliance of former Soviet states.[2] The member states are planning to continue with economic integration and were set to remove all customs borders between each other after July 2011. On 19 November 2011, the member states put together a joint commission on fostering closer economic ties, planning to create a Eurasian Union by 2015.[3][4] Since January 1, 2012, the three states are a single economic space called Common Economic Space to promote further economic integration.[4][5] The Eurasian Economic Commission is the regulatory agency for the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Community.[4]

The United States is opposed to the Customs Union, seeing it as an attempt to reestablish a Russian dominated USSR-type union amongst the Post-Soviet states.[6]

Market access

Access of products to the single territory of the Customs Union[7] is granted after products have proved to be compliant with the requirements of Customs Union Technical Regulations which are applicable to the product. As of December 2012, 31 Customs Union Technical Regulations have been developed[8] covering different types of products, some of which have already come into force, while others will come into force in the period 2012 – 2015. Some Technical Regulations are being still developed.

Before Technical Regulations come into force, the following approvals are the basis for access to the Customs Union Member Countries:

  • National approvals/certificates – they are good for access of product to the country where this approval/certificate has been issued.
  • Customs Union Certificates/Approvals issued in accordance with the “List of products subject to mandatory conformity approval in the Customs Union” – such Certificate/Approval is valid in all the three Member Countries of the Customs Union.

International travel

Citizens of the member states of the union may travel to other member states with just a internal passport, without an international passport.[9] Although presently Russia allows citizens of other CIS states to visit without a passport as well, it is expected that after 2015 only citizens of the Customs Union will have this privilege.[9][10]


President of Russia Vladimir Putin has stated that his goal is to enlarge the Customs Union to all Post-Soviet states, excluding the three Baltic EU member states.[11]


Armenia is trying to achieve trade deals with both the European Union (EU) and with the Customs Union.[12] On 11 September 2012 Armenia ratified the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) free trade zone agreement,[12] and is trying to sign an Association Agreement with the EU.[13] Chairman of the Russian Federation Council Valentina Matviyenko stated in December 2012 that Armenian membership in both the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Community was a possibility, though Armenia was also considering participating in other European bodies.[14] Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan stated in December 2012 that EU, CIS and Eurasian integration need not be mutually exclusive.[15] Shortly after a meeting in December 2012 between Sargsyan and the President of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission, Viktor Khristenko, in which the potential structure of Armenia's integration with the Customs Union was discussed,[16] Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for Catherine Ashton, the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, warned that "if Armenia were to join any customs union, this would not be compatible with concluding a bilateral Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between the EU and Armenia. Because a customs union has a common external trade policy and an individual member country no longer has sovereign control over its external trade policies."[13] Armenia does not have a land connection to either the European Union or to the Customs Union. On 3 September 2013, Armenia announced their decision to join the EurAsEC Customs Union. A Russian government communique stated that, "Armenia [has] decided to join the Customs Union and take the necessary practical steps to subsequently participate in the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union."[11]



In September 2013, during an interview, the Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili opened to the possibility that his country joins the Customs Union "if it will be advantageous for our country"[17].


Kyrgyzstan has stated its desire to join the Customs Union. In October 2011, the acting prime minister of Kyrgyzstan announced that his country will join the union, and that the process had been agreed to with the prime ministers of the other member states.[18] Kyrgyzstan is likely to join the Customs Union by the end of 2013[19]



Tajikistan plans to join into the Customs Union (since September 2012), but due to its lack of a common border with any current member state must wait until neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, which borders current member state Kazakhstan, is granted membership.[20]



Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has stated (in November 2010 and in March 2012) that Ukraine may join the Customs Union in the future, but that the Constitution of Ukraine does not presently allow them to join.[21][22] However, he has also stated (in April 2010) that Ukraine will not join the Customs Union.[23] Ukraine's potential Association Agreement (AA) with the European Union (EU)[24] is seen by the EU as being incompatible with Ukraine entering the customs union with Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus; the latter would end the chances for the AA according to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso.[25] Yanukovych wants to pursue EU membership for Ukraine.[25] In May 2011, Yanukovych stated that Ukraine is "searching for mechanisms of cooperation that will allow us to work with the customs union to the extent which Ukrainian laws and our obligations to world organizations such as the World Trade Organization allow”.[25] Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov stated in December 2012 that Ukraine could and should cooperate with both the Customs Union and the European Union at the same time.[26] In January 2013, President Yanukovych stated that he had cancelled a visit to Moscow in December 2012 because his country was not yet ready to join the Customs Union.[27] He further stated that Ukraine was trying to meet the legal requirements of the customs union without harming other international accords and that "experts from both sides [Ukraine and Russia] are currently working on this issue". However, he did not commit Ukraine to joining the union.[27] He also expressed hope that the AA with the EU would be signed in 2013.[28]

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the leader of Batkivshchyna, Ukraine's second largest party, is against Ukraine joining the Customs Union.[29] He stated in December 2012 that "Ukraine's joining the Customs Union means the restoration of the Soviet Union in a slightly different form and with a different name. But this means that the country will become a part of the Russian Empire. We know history. We have been there and we don't want to return there".[30]

Communist Party of Ukraine leader Petro Symonenko stated on 28 December 2012 that should Prime Minister Azarov fail to fulfill the promise of Ukraine's joining the Customs Union, his party would force his resignation.[31]

In a December 2012 poll by Democratic Initiatives Foundation and Razumkov Center, 32% supported Ukraine's accession to the Customs Union.[32]

On 25 February 2013 President of the European Commission Barroso made it again clear "One country cannot at the same time be a member of a customs union and be in a deep common free-trade area with the European Union".[33] At the time President Yanukovych was in negotiations with Russia to "find the right model" for cooperation with the Customs Union, while he was simultaneously trying to get Ukraine's agreements with the EU on free trade and political association signed by the EU.[33][34][35][36] Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's parliament) Volodymyr Rybak stated on 7 March 2013 "The Customs Union issue is not being discussed".[37]

Observer status

Negotiations on granting Ukraine observer status in the Customs Union took place in April/May 2013.[38][39] This status would give Ukraine the right to attend meetings, join the preparation of documents but excludes the right to vote.[9] An association agreement to grant Ukraine an "observer" status was signed on May 31, 2013 in Minsk.[40] Ukraine's status as an observer state is said to not conflict with its planned free trade agreement with the European Union.[40] Prime Minister Mykola Azarov stated on 7 June 2013 that "very favorable terms", including "a sharp reduction in gas price and the cancellation of crude oil export duties", had been offered to Ukraine for its accession to the Customs Union, but stressed that its membership of the World Trade Organization, and associated agreements, prevented Ukraine from joining the Customs Union.[41]



Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang stated in July 2012 that Vietnam may join the Customs Union: "if there is a political will from our country’s authorities, as well as Belarusian and Kazakh partners, we will soon be able to start this process".[42] The Customs Union completed a free trade agreement (FTA) feasibility study for Vietnam in November 2012[43] and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated in November 2012 that negotiations over the FTA will begin in early 2013.[44] Vietnamese officials estimated in September 2012 that negotiations could take two years.[43] Trade between Vietnam and the Customs Union in 2011 was 2.24 billion USD.[45]

Like Tajikistan and Armenia, Vietnam does not share a land border with a current Customs Union member state (although, unlike the first ones, Vietnam can be reached by sea from Russia, without passing through any other country).

See also


External links

  • (Russian)
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