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7 Mar 2017

Belarus premier: Internal differences snowball in EEU

BISHKEK, 7 March (BelTA) – Belarus’ Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov has slammed the integration processes in the Eurasian Economic Union. “We have set the task to implement the fundamental principle of the freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and labor, which is the basis of our economic union,” Belarusian Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov said when speaking at the meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council held in Bishkek, BelTA has learned.

“I have to say that more new obstacles and barriers are created. OK, let there be a difference in gas prices for the time being. When we were signing the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union we agreed that this price difference would be gradually eradicated by 2025. But why is the difference rising so dramatically? Not by 1% or 5%, or even 10%? The difference in prices between Belarus and the Russian Federation increased from 38% in early 2014 to 110% in 2016. Why, after the establishment of the EEU, the difference has gone up almost three times instead of going down gradually? What kind of free movement of goods, services, capital and labor are we talking about?” Andrei Kobyakov said.

The Prime Minister stressed that the Russian partners are well aware that 96% of the electricity in Belarus is produced from Russian natural gas. “How can we compete in the common market? Belarus agrees to move forward, but we are against pretending that we are moving forward,” the Belarusian prime minister said.

He recalled that when signing the EEU Treaty, the parties agreed on certain exemptions but said they would eliminate them as soon as possible. “Instead, all sorts of internal obstacles are growing like a snowball. This pattern was observed in 2016, despite the discussions at various levels. We have already lost count of these obstacles. Once some of them are removed, others immediately pop up. We are concerned over the growing number of restrictions, the national import substitution programs that view the goods produced in other EEU countries as alien. Decision No. 73 of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council on the technological operations in the production of industrial goods in the EEU signed by the heads of state on 29 May 2014, which is fundamental for industrial cooperation, is almost completely disavowed,” Andrei Kobyakov said.

“We constantly raise the issue of exceptions and limitations, barriers between countries in the EEU, but every time we bump into a blank wall. We are moving not forward but backward. However, I should like to express the hope that the EEC report on barriers, exceptions and limitations will not turn into the final and only result of the work, but will become a practical guide to action,” Andrei Kobyakov said.

The heads of government met in Bishkek to discuss mutual trade in 2015-2016, the economic sectors with an integration potential in the Eurasian Economic Union, measures aimed at utilizing this potential and also the ways to remove barriers in the development of the internal market of the Eurasian Economic Union. The parties coordinated joint development forecasts for the agro-industrial complex, the demand and supply in the EEU member states for the main types of agricultural products and food in 2017. The meeting also focused on the measures to boost the export of farm machinery and equipment, produced in the EEU states, to third countries.

The Eurasian Intergovernmental Council will next meet in Kazan.

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