Updated at 16:11,02-12-2016

Customs Union is very close to single currency

Prime Minister of Armenia Tigran Sargsyan told this in an interview with Russian newspaper Izvestia.

"I think that the Customs Union is very close to the single currency. Only about five years of the concerted monetary and fiscal policy are sufficient. This is advantageous for Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. There is a certainty that levels of the countries' development are similar. They are not going to live off others", Mr. Sargsyan said.

According to him, "the single currency is convenient for economic units and citizens."

"What's the point of having a national currency and lose money during transfers?" he said.

It should be noted that there is no common stance on the issue of the single currency in the framework of the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia.

For example, Russian Ambassador to Belarus Aleksander Surikov proposed in June to use Russian ruble as the single currency.

"We should go back to the issue of the single currency. Belarusian system will not survive the second crisis," Mr. Surikov told in the interview with Interfax-West.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said similar later.

"We should think further, we should think on a scale of the Eurasian Union, which we are approaching and it should be established in 2015," he said. "We should think over issues that currently, may be, are not the subject of the ongoing negotiations, but we should think over them, especially with a glance to volatility in global markets, while considering the issues of introducing some currency units, and perhaps in the end, the introduction of the single currency," Mr. Medvedev told his colleagues from Kazakhstan and Belarus - Karim Massimov and Mikhail Myashikovich.

Minsk answered immediately. "The fact that we do not have today Russian ruble is not a catastrophe," Alyaksandr Lukashenka said at a meeting with the head of Bashkortostan Rustem Khamitov. "Will we collapse on not, will we survive the next crisis without Russian money or not is an open question that may be discussed and debated about today."

"Lukashenka will oppose the transition to the Russian ruble to the last. He knows well that it threatens him with the loss of power," Stanislaw Bahdankevich, former head of the National Bank of Belarus, told in the interview with the Ukrainian newspaper Delo.

According to him, "it is not a currency, but the low efficiency of Belarus' economy." The stability of Russian ruble is also quite relative, as its foundation is "the economy of raw materials, which is not really developed and relies on oil and gas exports. Any problems in this area, the fall in world market prices can cause the Russian ruble to fall."

Besides, experts have no single opinion on the stage of three countries' integration when the single currency may be introduced. Some think that it can be done after 2015, when the Eurasian Union will start its work. Others believe that it will take much longer time.

"The possibility of the future introduction of the single currency is being discussed within the framework of the Customs Union, which has grown to the Common Economic Zone. But, neither Belarus, nor Kazakhstan, nor Russia are ready for this. There are many contradictions, many questions, and opinions", said Sergey Agibalov, head of the economic sector of the Institute of Energy and Finance of Russia. Therefore, in his opinion, "the single currency will appear not earlier than in 2020."