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Lukashenko participating in EAEU summit, Belarus' proposals specified

President 01.10.2019 | 12:56

YEREVAN, 1 October (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko is taking part in a session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council on 1 October, BelTA has learned.

The summit is taking place in the state residence of the Armenian president in Yerevan. The leaders of the Eurasian Economic Union member states are expected to discuss matters of economic interaction, financial policy, energy, the main directions of international activities, and the advancement of cooperation with third countries. The agenda of the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council includes about 15 items.

Moldova President Igor Dodon will take part in the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council as the head of state of an observer state while Iran President Hassan Rouhani and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will participate as guests of honor.

A number of matters the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council will discuss are particularly important for Belarus. The Belarusian delegation is expected to lay down its proposals and put forward a number of initiatives.

Revision of the import customs duties distribution scheme

The distribution of import customs duties between the Eurasian Economic Union member states is one of the most sensitive issues on the agenda for Belarus. Work to revise the figures has been in progress since 2017, with every country lobbying for the most profitable option for itself. These matters have been repeatedly discussed by the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission, the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council, and the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council but so far the countries have only been able to reconcile approaches to determining the methods of calculating the distribution rates.

In line with the current standards Armenia gets 1.22% of the sum of the import customs duties, Belarus gets 4.56%, Kazakhstan – 7.055%, Kyrgyzstan – 1.9%, and Russia – 85.265%. The standards will stay in effect till the end of the year.

Why does Belarus want the distribution of import customs duties revised? First, the standard set for Kyrgyzstan when the country joined the Eurasian Economic Union expired in August 2018. Back then the standard was set without any calculations. Getting the country's economy adapted to working as part of the union as fast as possible was the idea. The standard's period of effect was later extended till the end of 2019. The Eurasian Economic Union member states intended to work out common approaches by this deadline. However, the countries have not yet determined over what period the distribution of customs duties has to be calculated. The latest discussion took place at a session of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council on 9 August. Belarus' partners preliminarily agreed to raise the country's rate by 0.3 percentage points to 4.86%. Once it is done, the country's revenues will rise by $37 million per annum.

The final decision has to be made by the heads of state of the Eurasian Economic Union member states. If the countries fail to reach an agreement, the distribution of import customs duties will stay in effect with regard to the import of four EAEU countries without Kyrgyzstan. Belarus' rate will be 4.65% and the country's revenues will rise by $0.6 million.

Removal of exemptions and restrictions in the Eurasian Economic Union

There are a total of 52 exemptions and restrictions in the Eurasian Economic Union. After fighting to remove them for many years, Belarus has managed to eliminate only one exemption although the relevant roadmap has been adopted. Apart from that, the number of barriers is on the rise and now stands at 19.

During today's session the heads of state will have to decide when and where the next session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council will take place. Belarus would like to initiate a discussion about the removal of barriers, exemptions, and restrictions during the next summit. Belarus believes it is necessary to review what arrangements reached when the Eurasian Economic Union Treaty was signed have not been fulfilled.

Belarus' presidency in the Eurasian Economic Union

Belarus will take over presidency over the Eurasian Economic Union in February 2020. Simultaneously the country will be able to appoint its own chairperson of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission for four years. Another candidate of Belarus will get a ministerial post in the commission in accordance with the quotas. It is yet unclear who will occupy these positions and for what specifically the Belarusian minister in the Eurasian Economic Commission will be responsible for.

At present Belarus is represented on the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission by Industry and Agribusiness Minister Aleksandr Subbotin and Technical Regulation Minister Viktor Nazarenko.

The minister of trade is believed to be one of the most important positions in the commission. The minister has enough authority to influence trade of the Eurasian Economic Union member states. The position is now occupied by the Russian government official Veronika Nikishina. It is quite possible Belarus and Russia may exchange the quota-defined positions.

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