Belarus gives Russia list of Customs Union demands - paper

Belarus has released a list of trade problems with Russia that it says hinder the signing of a Customs Union agreement, a Russian business daily said on Tuesday.

Kommersant said Minsk was dissatisfied over high gas prices for Belarus, the "humiliating" attitudes of Russian banks over loans to Belarusian farmers and Russia's restrictions on the import of Belarusian medicine.

Minsk insists that all members of the Customs Union, which also includes Kazakhstan, should have parity.

"The restrictive measures taken by Russia cause the greatest economic damage [to Belarus]," Kommersant quoted an unnamed Belarusian Foreign ministry spokesperson as saying.

Belarus refuses to accept Russian gas prices, set at $169 per 1,000 cubic meters in the first quarter of the year and $185 in the second quarter, and has been paying $150 since January 1 instead.

Minsk also has disputes with Moscow over tariffs on Russian oil, which Belarus said should be completely duty-free in the planned common market.

On Sunday, Russian Economy Minister Elvira Nabiullina said that all the disputed Russian-Belarusian issues including the export duties on Russian oil and petroleum products, "will be settled simultaneously with all the other issues concerning the single economic space".

Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed an agreement on the creation of the Customs Code in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on November 27, 2009.

The Customs Union formally came into existence on January 1, but is unable to start working fully until disputes are resolved and the customs code comes into effect.

The Code was due to start operating on July 1, but at the end of May the three former Soviet republics failed to resolve disputes at a meeting in St. Petersburg.

Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky then said the disputed issues between the countries included the import of foreign cars and aircraft into the Union's customs territory and export duties on Russian oil and petroleum products to Belarus.

President Medvedev signed a federal law last week ratifying the Customs Code and Kazakhstan's lower house of parliament ratified it on the same day.

MOSCOW, June 8 (RIA Novosti)


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