International Trade: Customs Union Negotiating Trade Deals With Nonmembers, Russia's Lavrov Says


Source: BNA
Related Topics: International Trade

159 DER A-13
International Trade
Customs Union Negotiating Trade Deals
With Nonmembers, Russia's Lavrov Says

By Sergei Blagov
MOSCOW—A top Russian official pledged that the Customs Union of Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan will continue to negotiate free trade agreements with countries outside the union, the Foreign Ministry announced Aug. 16.

The Customs Union is negotiating free trade pacts with New Zealand, Vietnam, and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying in the ministry announcement after talks in the Belarus capital Minsk. EFTA comprises Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein.

The Customs Union has long sought to conclude free trade pacts with other nations. In November 2011, Russia indicated there were plans to negotiate a free trade agreement with Vietnam by mid-2012, to be followed by a similar agreement between the Customs Union and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Last December, Russia and India pledged to negotiate an agreement on economic cooperation between the Customs Union and India. In May, Russian trade officials announced plans to conclude a free trade agreement between the Customs Union and New Zealand in September 2012.

Meanwhile, despite pledges of joint action by the Customs Union, authorities in Kazakhstan introduced a new unilateral foreign trade measure. On Aug. 16, the government released Decree No. 886 to ban exports of oil products such as light distillates (including LPG and naphtha) for six months.

Although Decree No. 886 went into effect retroactively to July 1, 2012, Kazakhstan's government ordered the country's Foreign Ministry to notify the Customs Union about the ban within 14 days from Aug. 16.

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