Kyrgyzstan to join customs union

BISHKEK, April 11 (RIA Novosti) – The Kyrgyz government on Monday approved a plan to join a post-Soviet customs union and common economic space.

An interagency commission was set up to open negotiations on the republic’s admission to the Customs Union with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Customs Union countries account for 44.9% of Kyrgyzstan’s foreign trade.

“Membership in this organization will strengthen the republic’s borders and improve the living and working conditions of about half a million Kyrgyz nationals working in Russia and Kazakhstan,” Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev said.

“God willing, we will be part of the Common Economic Space from January 1.”

He stressed, however, that Kyrgyzstan will remain a WTO member.

The Customs Union materialized in early July 2010, when the countries ratified the Customs Code. Customs borders are to be scrapped on July 1, 2011.

The creation of a common economic space with the free movement of goods, services and labor is billed as the next stage of their integration.

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