11 Aug 2009 17:36

Draft Customs Union code to be finalized by November 2009 - Shuvalov

MOSCOW. Aug 11 (Interfax) - A draft Customs Code for the Customs Union being set up between Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan will be finalized by November 2009, when the leaders of the three states are scheduled to meet, Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov told journalists when commenting on the drafting of the document.

The Customs Union board is to meet on Wednesday to consider a large number of issues, among them a Customs Code concept and draft, "which has been drawn up and will be discussed tomorrow," Shuvalov said.

"This document is important, because it concerns a new customs territory and all the three states, namely Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus," he said.

The participants in the Wednesday meeting will discuss how to distribute customs duties, "which will be collected in favor of the common customs territory, and in what proportion and in what form this money will be divided between the three states," he said.

After that, the three countries will adjust these issues, and a finalized draft Customs Code will have to be submitted by the meeting between the Russian, Belarusian, and Kazakh heads of state, he said.

There is an opinion that this formula needs to be stipulated in the common Customs Code, but others suggest that it should be discussed outside the Code's framework and that an agreement on it should be found during a transition period to last from January 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011, Shuvalov said.

The Customs Union will be formally established by January 1, 2010 but will start its full-scale function on July 1, 2011, he said.

Shuvalov also said the decision that the Customs Union will seek accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) will make it more complicated for Russia to join the WTO. "It would be harder for the three to join it together," he said.

At the same time, Russia presumes that Kazakhstan's and Belarus's economic laws should be synchronized with the Russian ones, because the Russian economic laws "are correlated to a very high level with the EU laws," he said.

The building of a Customs Union has been among Russia's foreign economic priorities, and the negotiations on joining the WTO will be continued within the framework of the Customs Union, he said.