WTO membership no obstacle for joining customs union

Kyrgyzstan is ready to join the post-Soviet Customs Union while retaining the WTO member status, Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev said in an interview with the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily on Monday.

The Kyrgyz government in April approved a plan to join the customs union and common economic space with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. An interagency commission was set up to negotiate on the republic’s admission.

“We are full of determination to enter the customs union, with Kyrgyzstan remaining the WTO member,” the prime minister said. “Regular negotiations within the framework of a working group of the Customs Union member states are currently underway.”

Atambayev said he had recently discussed the issue with Andrey Belyaninov, the Russian customs chief who is also a co-chairman of the Russian-Kyrgyz intergovernmental commission.

The Customs Union is seen by Russia as the first step on the way for the three former Soviet republics to create by 2012 a common economic space, which could be compared to the EU’s common market of goods, services, capital and labor.

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