Three countries create customs union, which they fear

Experts in Belarus and Russia do not believe that Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan will enter the World Trade Organization as a common customs unionor will be able to create such a union at all. The prime ministers of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan on June 9 in Moscow signed an agreement on entering the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a single customs territory. However, the 'milk war' began on the next day, and everyone forgot about this idea. The 'war' ended soon and on June 25 Belarus deputy PM Andrei Kaniakou said that common sanitary and veteranary standards could be introduced in this customs union from June 1, 2010. But, WTO Director General Pascal Lamy on June 24 expressed doubts that such a union would be ligitimate to join WTO.

Former Russian economy minister Evgeniy Yasin does not believe in the customs union between Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, either. He said:

"I think there is a long way for a final aagreement about the customs union. Given the situation in which the three countries are at the moment, there will be a lot of hurdles and disagreements on this way. All of these three countries are in crisis, and every move that leads to concessions and profit loss will result in the reaction of suspicion from each of the allies”.

Commentator Roman Yakovlevski agrees with him. He reckons that the idea of creating a customs union between the three countries is not viable. This is just a long-term political game, he said.

"The presence of Belarus in this troika looks wierd at the background of "milk' and other trade wars. I would even say it is ridiculous. There could be various initiatives, but this idea is not viable".

Roman Yakovleski said that Russia had held negotiations with WTO with no result for 15 years. No one can say how much time the three countries, especially Belarus with its unreformed economy, will spend in order to join WTO.

Такое ж меркаванне і ў дацэнта факультэта сусветнай палітыкі і эканомікі  “Вышэйшай школы эканомікі” Андрэя Суздальцава.

Belarusian economist Aliaksandr Chubryk does not see any benefits in this union for our country. He says:

"I am not so sure that this union makes sense, because it means that Belarus and Kazakhstan should set the same custom duties as in Russia. And, this could not be benefitial for our country. There are certain tariffs that are benefitial to Russia. The Russian government sees them fit in order to protect Russian producers. I think it is technically very difficult”.

Meanwhile, Belarus deputy premier Uladzimir Siamashka said that Belarus would seek to create a free trade zone with the European Union. In respond, former Russian economy minister Evgeniy Yasin says that Belarus could lose its eastern friend on the way to EU.

Despite the fact that experts forecasts the fate of the Belarus-Russia union state for the customs union of the three countries, economist Aliaksandr Chubryk warns that ordinary Belarusians could expect unplesant surprises from this union like the increased duties for some goods. For instance, if the costs of custom clearance of imported cars becomes as in Russia and gets higher, it will be one of those unpleazant surprises.