Armenia will sign a treaty of accession to the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia on April 29, Minister of Economy Vagram Avanesyan said on Thursday, April 17.
“The date of signature has been determined – April 29, but the final results of the talks will become known a day before that,” he said, adding that they would be announced at a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at the level of heads of state in Minsk.
“We do not know today whether the talks will be completed by that time or not. We hope they will be concluded,” the minister said.
He stressed that several issues had yet to be resolved at the talks on waivers. “We are engaged in intensive negotiations because there are differing interests,” he added.
On September 3, 2013, after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan announced that the “Republic of Armenia will join the Customs Union and will take practical steps to this end and will subsequently participate in forming the Eurasian Economic Union”.
At their summit in Moscow on December 24, 2013, the presidents of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Armenia approved an accession roadmap, which said that the treaty on Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union would be ready by May 2014.
Preliminary results of implementation by Armenia of the roadmap for accession to the Customs Union were reported to the presidents of the member states at a meeting of the Eurasian Economic Commission on March 5, 2014.
“Over the two months that have passed since the December summit, and we can say that Armenia has made great headway in implementing the roadmap ahead of schedule. I feel optimistic about the possibility and ability of Armenia to implement the 260-point roadmap and the amount of work to be done before admission,” Viktor Khristenko, chairman of the Eurasian Economic Commission’s Board, said.
Following Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan’s resignation, President Sargsyan said Yerevan would continue the accession process at a new pace.
Prime Minister Sargsyan said earlier that there were no obstacles to Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union.
“There are no obstacles that could prevent Armenia from becoming a member of the Customs Union,” he said, adding that “most of the work has been done, and we only have to complete the list of waivers for 900 types of goods that are sensitive for Armenia”.
“We have grouped these goods, consulted the private sector and organised public discussions in order to decide which types of goods, raw materials and services are important and sensitive for us,” the prime minister said.
“The first most important factor to benefit our business is that economic entities will get unrestricted access to a large consumer market,” he said. “The quality and degree of processing of our goods and services are such that our economy is geared to and aimed at this large market. The creation of new customs regimes will allow our business to sell these goods and services freely in this large and strong market.”
“This is a powerful stimulus for economic growth,” he added.
The second important factor is the simplification of customs procedures. “The elimination of technical hindrances … means that goods and services made in the country will be able to be exported to the Customs Union member states without additional conditions,” Sargsyan said.
Membership in the Customs Union will also help attract investments in Armenia, he said and cited the Russian oil company Rosneft’s plans to invest 400 million U.S. dollars in the republic’s economy.
Yet another factor is accessibility of inexpensive resources, Sargsyan said. He recalled that “three agreements have been signed with Russia, which guarantee long-term and stable supplies of resources to companies”.
The prime minister believes that “integration processes will help improve the quality of life in the republic” and hopes that “the free movement of labour will reduce the risk of emigration [from Armenia] considerably”.
The Customs Union between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan was established on December 19, 2009, in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where the leaders of the three states – Dmitry Medvedev, Alexander Lukashenko, and Nursultan Nazarbayev – signed the Joint Statement on its founding. The first phase of the Customs Union’s functioning began on January 1, 2010, with the introduction of a uniform customs tariff.
The Customs Union’s highest bodies are the Interstate Councils of the heads of states and governments of its members. Its joint permanent governing body is the Customs Union Commission.
The Customs Union formation envisages creation of a common customs territory where no customs duties or economic restrictions will apply, save for special protective, anti-dumping and compensatory measures. Within the Customs Union, a uniform customs tariff and other uniform measures regulating the commodity trade with third nations will be applied.