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Russia, Belarus & Kazakhstan agree to form customs union

Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have agreed on the legal framework for a customs union. The agreement is intended to ease tariffs and customs procedures to boost trade. In time, other EurAsEC members are expected to join.

“Discussions in the narrow format were meaningful and constructive. Sometimes they were emotional but always marked by a desire to find a solution. Despite differences, we reached consensus almost on all questions that we had raised in the interests of all our countries. These issues include economic integration, possible construction of the customs union as well as water and energy co-operation,” President Putin commented afterwards.

Leaders of the six CIS countries that form the Eurasian Economic Community  gathered to sign documents laying the foundation for a common economic space by the year 2010.

EurAsEC is composed of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The organisation deals exclusively with economic and social issues.

The summit aims to improve trade and create a favourable economic environment among member states.

The long-term goal of the EurAsEC countries is to join the World Trade Organisation.

The territory of the six member states is twice the area of Europe. Gross turnover is $ US 36.3 BLN – that's estimated to make up 85 per cent of all the economic potential of the CIS countries.

Later today, Armenia will join the group for a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation. This will focus on military and security issues. A package of important agreements is also expected to be reached there.

“The documents to be signed today give a serious impetus to the development of the organisation. We are reaching the level of creating a peace-keeping potential. This is crucial as more and more crisises are happening globally. It will give the organisation more weight. The agreements to be signed deal with military and economic co-operation, preferential deliveries of equipment to law-enforcement agencies, migration and co-operation in cases of man-made disasters,” stated Nikolay Bordyuzha, the CSTO Secretary General.