At focus
Armenia to sign Customs Union accession deal April 29

Armenia to sign Customs Union accession deal April 29

April 17
Armenia will sign the agreement to formally join the Customs Union of Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus on April 29, the acting economy minister Vahram Avanesyan said today, April 17 adding that negotiations are in progress over the number of goods for which Armenia seeks to continue levying its current, lower customs duties, according to ARKA. Avanesyan noted that the agreement will be signed at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council at the level of heads of states. According to the official, is not clear now whether the negotiations would be accomplished by that time. Asked how the agreement could be signed without completion of the talks he said it was a usual practice: "any talks have the date of completion and that of signing of papers,” he said. Avanesyan stopped short of disclosing the details of the talks on customs duties for Armenia, noting that only a few unresolved issues remain. Armenia implemented 70% of the activities stipulated by the Customs Union accession roadmap, a presidential statement said in late March. According to the address of Armenian leader Serzh Sargsyan to participants of the Armenia-CU conference, close cooperation with the Eurasian Economic Commission and relevant structures in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan promoted progress in Armenia’s accession activities, to be followed by signing of an international legal deal. In his address, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev welcomed the already perceptible success that the Customs Union and Unified Economic Space members achieved in their work. He also hailed Armenia’s progress in implementation of the CU accession roadmap, according to Armenia Today. He further noted a stable global tendency for regional integration projects to facilitate economic growth and secure investments, expressing hope for the integration to strengthen Armenian-Russian ties. At the conference, then Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan outlined challenges of Armenia’s CU accession. “Armenia is a member of the World Trade Organization, with customs fees instituted in the WTO space thrice as low as those in the CU area. This means that the CU accession will negatively affect business entities importing goods from third countries. On the other hand, local manufacturers might benefit from the step, in having their rights protected and investments boosted.” As he further noted, the expected increase in customs fees might force Armenia to give preference to services and products offered by the CU states, with the difficulties that the importers of goods from third countries could face to be discussed. According to Sargsyan, by joining WTO, Armenia assumed certain obligations which should be revised in the light of its CU accession and change in customs fees, with the negotiations to be launched on the subject. “Armenia will complete all steps envisaged in the Customs Union accession road map in mid-April, will the CU accession deal currently in the works,” Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan said on March 1. As Kocharyan told a news conference, once the text of the deal is coordinated with the CU member states, it will be submitted for parliamentary ratification. A draft resolution on Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union and unified economic zone was approved at the Minsk-hosted Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting Dec 24. On Jan 23, Armenian government has approved the list of measures for joining the Customs Union.
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