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23 Dec, 2014 16:53

Putin gives nod to Armenia joining Eurasian Economic Union

Putin gives nod to Armenia joining Eurasian Economic Union

Russian President Vladimir Putin has put his signature to a law that makes Armenia a full member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) from January 2, 2015.

The document signed Tuesday will add the 3 million people in Armenia to the 170 million consumers in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

READ MORE: Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan sign ‘epoch’ Eurasian Economic Union

The agreement stipulates that Armenia joins the Treaty of the EEU, as well as other international agreements signed under the framework of the Customs Union. It means Armenia will have to revise its tariff commitments as a member of the WTO. The Common Customs Tariff (CCT) of the EEU will be revised as well.

The treaty stipulates transitional periods from one year to eight years for aligning Armenia’s import duties according to the CCT. Applying the technical regulations of the Customs Union will take from 12 to 60 months; three years will be given for revising the issues of intellectual property protection.

Armenia’s President Serzh Sarksyan first said the country was choosing to join its former Soviet ally rather than a European free trade agreement in early September of 2013.

READ MORE: Armenia chooses Russian trade deal over EU

In October this year leaders of Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia signed a treaty that will make Erevan a new member of the Eurasian Economic Union.

On top of this, the Presidents of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus signed the treaty for Kyrgyzstan’s accession into the Eurasian Economic Union. The country is now making serious efforts to adapt its national legislation to the requirements of the Customs Union, said President Putin at the EEU summit in Moscow.

 Supreme Eurasian Economic Council summit. (RIA Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin)

Armenia in the Eurasian Economic Union: who wins?

Experts in Russia and Armenia agree that having Armenia in the EEU is beneficial for both.

Armenia’s geographic position between Russia and Iran makes it an important trade link between the two countries that have recently been speeding up trade, the Deputy Director of the Russian Institute of Strategic Studies Tamara Guzenkova said in early December.

Supplies of food from Armenia should also significantly increase, as Russia’s food embargo on Western imports has puts big pressure on the industry, Guzenkova added.

“Armenia could make a very significant contribution to food security of the EEU and Russia in particular, as their production is absolutely clean, good quality, and natural products,” she said.

For Armenia, cheaper imports of Russian energy will be one of the biggest perks, according to Armenia Deputy Speaker of Parliament Eduard Sharmazanov. Gas will be imported at old prices, and the country will be able to import oil products 30 percent cheaper, and acquire weapons at Russian domestic prices, he said on December 4 at a meeting of the parliament.

On a more pessimistic note, Dr Mariam Voskasian, the assistant professor of economics at Russian-Armenian University believes the EEU will test Armenia’s economic strength, as to some extent the country still isn’t ready for full integration, as the Russian crisis has inflicted a painful blow on its economy.

The Armenian economy hasn’t shown high growth rates in the last five years.

“Poverty is increasing along with public debt, general welfare is decreasing, which in turn influences the growth slowdown. Thus, of course, in the current situation the integration is risky for both sides,” she concluded.