Customs Union to create opportunities for economic development – Minister B.Zhamishev


Muratbek Makulbekov

Customs Union to create opportunities for economic development - Minister B.ZhamishevLast year Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus adopted a number of important decisions, signed agreements on the Customs Union establishment. In the interview to a Kazinform correspondent Kazakhstan Minister of Finance Bolat Zhamishev told about prospects of economic development that open before the three countries, and potential changes, which should be expected next year.

This year Kazakhstan joins the Customs Union. How will it change the trade-economic relations between Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus? How important is the Customs Union creation for further social economic development of our country?

As you know, the Agreement on Common Customs Tariff entered into force on January 1, 2010, and this means, that our country starts economic interaction with the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus within the framework of the Customs Union. Classical definition of a customs union is free trade among the union member states and agreed tariff rate for the third countries. From January 1 Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus will have free trade, from July 1, 2010 the Customs Code of the Customs Union will come into force, and the three countries will not carry out customs clearance. There will be held customs, sanitary and epidemiological, phytosanitary, veterinary and transport control. But from July 1, 2011 all these types of control will be removed from the internal borders of the Customs Union. There will be carried out only border control.

Many people are concerned about possible negative consequences of the Customs Union establishment in connection with probable advance in price for some goods. How can you comment on this?

It is foreseen a transition period for a number of sensitive products. Thus this year will bring no increase in customs tariffs on them. At the same time prices for a number of goods imported from the third countries can rise in a short-term perspective, but not necessarily. Much will be determined by effective demand and alternative in the form of the Russian and Belarusian goods. It is referred to a short-term perspective. Talking about medium and long-term perspective, our country will create efforts for the domestic production development. The raw sector of our economy is its blind side. Of course, existence of oil and other natural resources in our country is a gift from above. These sectors are anchor for our economy, and now, in the crisis, owing to these fields, which form main export positions of Kazakhstan, we see stabilization of macroeconomic indexes.

A possible advance in prices that can occur after the transition to a common customs tariff is a short-term effect. The state is oriented to the effect that will be reached in medium and long-term perspectives. There is the following scenario – on one scale there is an opportunity to develop economy in the country’s interests, on the other – fears of possible advance in prices for a number of goods, which are imported presently.

What tasks does the Ministry of Finance face in connection with the Customs Union establishment?

Our Ministry should execute a lot of activities for implementation of all agreements signed within the framework of the Customs Union establishment. In particular, it is necessary to create conditions for implementation of the Customs Code of the Customs Union. As is known, Kazakhstan was responsible for this document development. The Customs Code is based on the Kyoto Convention of 1973. The main issues regarding customs policy are regulated in the Convention. Duties on the collection of indirect taxes are transferred from the Customs Committee to Tax Committee. It is necessary to bring under regulations all main principles of customs administration in subordinate acts.    

First we told that we would remove customs clearance from July 1, 2011. Russia and Belarus were ready to agree. But then we announced that we were ready for customs clearance abolition from July 1, 2010, otherwise there appear various imbalances. Introducing such a proposal, we realistically assessed our forces.

One of the important directions of work within the framework of the Customs Union establishment is the strengthening  of external customs borders. Last year it was adopted a program on strengthening state border and customs frontier within the framework of struggle against drug trafficking. The Operations Control Center was created in the Customs Committee. I would like to note, that we have full support from the Government and all state bodies. The Operations Control Center will control the situation in all customs posts. It is very important that if we simplify passage of internal borders, customs clearance should become fast and easy for participants of foreign economic activity. It is necessary for business development, and our economy development in whole.

Will the Customs Union establishment affect stability of the national currencies of the Union member states? Is it possible to create a regional or supranational currency mentioned by President N.Nazarbayev? Will the dollar dependence of our economies decline?

Stability of the national currencies depends on many factors, including status of gold and currency reserves, which, in its turn, depends on balance of foreign trade. But a monetary union is the last step, which is implemented within the creation of an economic union. The best experience of creation of integrated economic unions is the European Union. I think these issues will be discussed after the establishment of the Single Economic Space, but not earlier than the other issues of economic integration.

As for the creation of a regional currency for reducing dollar dependence, it is a way to avoid monopoly of one currency.