Updated at 13:48,15-08-2017

Belarus ready to sign Eurasian Economic Union treaty on May 29, first deputy prime minister says

Dzmitry ZAYATS, Naviny.by

May. Belarus is ready to sign the Eurasian Economic Union treaty on May 29, First Deputy Prime Minister Uladzimir Syamashka said during the Belarusian Industrial Forum in Minsk on May 21, BelaPAN said.

All approval procedures have already been completed, and the draft Treaty on the Formation of the Eurasian Economic Union is expected to be signed by the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia in Astana on May 29, Mr. Syamashka said. Yesterday the government discussed this document once again and found ways to deal with all issues, he said. The Belarusian side is ready in principle to sign the treaty.

According to Mr. Syamashka, Belarus continues to demand the abolition of all exceptions from the Eurasian Economic Unions free trade regime and all economic barriers.

While discussing the draft treaty with his Kazakh and Russian counterparts in Minsk on April 29, Alyaksandr Lukashenka was manifestly disappointed that it provided for the establishment of the Eurasian Economic Unions common markets of crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas no later than 2025.

The innovative proposal to implement our agreements 10 years from now, by 2025, sounds strange to say the least, Mr. Lukashenka noted.

There should be no duties and restrictions on the movement of goods within the union, he stressed.

However, Mr. Lukashenka told reporters on May 9 following a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow the previous day that Belarus would not block the signing of the treaty on May 29. If we cannot make a big step, we should move forward in small steps, he explained.

According to Mr. Lukashenka, Russia agreed as a result of the meeting to supply as much crude oil as Belarus needs and gradually abolish the requirement for Belarus to transfer to Russia all export duties that it collects on petroleum products refined from Russian oil. Some $1.5 billion will be left for Belarus treasury next year and we will transfer approximately the same amount into Russias treasury, Mr. Lukashenka noted. As for 2016, as I have already said, we will return to this matter and I am sure that we will resolve this duty issue within two years and will start to trade in a civilized manner.

Mr. Lukashenka added that Russia would provide a loan of $2 billion as early as this month to shore up Belarus gold and foreign exchange reserves.