Azerbaijan supports free trade in CIS

Azerbaijan, Baku, Sept. 17 /Trend, I.Khalilova/

Azerbaijan intends to maintain its position on accession to draft treaty on free trade zone in the CIS which is being prepared, a government source told Trend.

The CIS countries intend to continue the discussions over the draft agreement at the 51st session of CIS Economic Council to be held Sept. 23 in Almaty. It will also be attended by the Azerbaijani delegation.

"Azerbaijan has maintained its position unless a consensus is achieved on all issues in the discussions of the draft treaty, that is, until preparation of its final version," said the government source

In order to protect the domestic market and national interests, as well as create favorable conditions for bilateral trade, Azerbaijan will continue to defend its position, not giving a definitive answer on the question of acceding to the treaty. The government notes the presence of differences in the current version of the treaty.

The draft document had been developed by the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation and submitted for consideration to the CIS Executive Committee at the end of 2008. Since then, a special working group held a series of negotiations examining and taking into account proposals and remarks of concerned states. This February, the working group took the decision to consider the text of articles of the draft agreement and several attachments to it agreed. The draft document, specified in accordance with submitted proposals, was approved at a meeting of the CIS Economic Council's Committee for Economic Issues in March 2011.

The drafted document envisions the formation of common agreement basis meeting modern requirements, with the purpose of full-scale liberalization of trade within the CIS area. The new agreement envisages minimization of import duty-related withdrawals from the free trade mode. Under to-be agreement, export duties shall be fixed and, once the agreement enters into force, negotiations over phase-to-phase cancellation of export duties shall be commenced.

There are currently a 1994 Free Trade Agreement (amended in 1999) and some 100 bilateral agreements in effect in the CIS area. The majority of these documents contradict one another and the requirements of the World Trade Organization.

In accordance with the existing FTZ bilateral agreements, the structure of Azerbaijan's export is practically free of any withdrawal except for the two items - tobacco and denatured alcohol - with Russia and Kazakhstan. In this connection, the Government of Azerbaijan still prefers assessing the FTZ Agreement preparation situation as a detached onlooker.

Inter alia, Azerbaijan is very much interested in transit issues to become able to increase the volume of its turnover of goods in future. At the sidelines of the FTZ negotiations, Ukraine and Belarus try to stand for the transit terms as much as possible and receive backing from the Azerbaijani side.

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