Russia completes ratification of Eurasian Economic Union, as Putin signs law

Russian President Vladimir Putin. (RIA Novosti/Aleksey Nikolskyi)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law ratifying a historic treaty, committing Russia to an economic union with Belarus and Kazakhstan. The Eurasian Economic Union will come into effect in January 2015.

Putin’s signature in the document puts the final dot in Russia’s ratification of the union which will be in place on January 1, 2015, as the other union states are expected to complete ratification in the next few days.

The economic union is the next step of integration within the Customs Union between the three countries. The agreement had previously been ratified by the Russian State Duma and the Federal Council of Russia.

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It will help cut trade barriers and be the largest common market in the ex-Soviet sphere, comprising over 170 million people. The troika of countries will cooperate in energy, industry, agriculture, and transport. The ruble will become the de facto currency of the organization, although each country will still keep their local currency.

Financial integration is a major part of the agreement, while Russian, which is very widely spoken in both Belarus and Kazakhstan, will be the working language of the union. The headquarters of the union will be in Moscow, with the courts in Minsk, and Almaty will be the home of the financial regulatory body.

Citizens of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan will have the right to work freely throughout the member states without the need for a work permit. Over the last three years trade within the Customs Union has increased by $23 billion, or by nearly 50 percent. At the end of 2013, it stood at $66.2 billion.

Belarus and Kazakhstan are in third place in foreign trade with the Russian Federation, after the EU and China.