7 Oct 2009 12:45

Astana hopes to reach agreement on Customs Union

ASTANA. Oct 7 (Interfax) - An agreement on common customs tariffs for the Customs Union being formed by Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus is expected to be reached before the end of October.

"Negotiations are in progress today. In our opinion, we will achieve an agreement on 100% of tariffs [within the Customs Union] by the end of October," Kazakh Industry and Trade Minister Aset Isekeshev said at a parliamentary session on Wednesday.

"Tariffs on equipment are a key issue. The negotiating team has managed to achieve an agreement on two aspects. A zero [import customs duty] rate will be levied on 900 samples of high technology equipment, which will make it possible to import equipment from the U.S., Japan and other countries using this zero rate," the minister said.

The negotiators' second achievement is an agreement that the same zero rate will be applied to items of equipment outside the aforementioned list, the import and use of which is envisioned in investment contracts, he said.

During their session, Kazakh MPs also approved a bill that ratifies a tariff preferences protocol, which was signed by Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus on December 12, 2008 and is aimed at forming a legal foundation for the Eurasian Economic Community's Customs Union.

"According to the protocol, tariff preferences applied to commodities delivered to the territory of the Customs Union's member-states or the union's common territory are used irrespective of these commodities' country of origin," the parliamentary committee for international affairs, defense and security said in a report.

"In compliance with the protocol, such tariff preferences either exempt [imported products] from customs duties or allow the application of lower customs duty rates," the committee said.