Sanctions against Russia affect Kazakhstan
Baku, Azerbaijan, Oct. 20
By Aygun Badalova - Trend:
Western sanctions against Russia are affecting Kazakhstan, which is the member of the Customs Union, and lead to the country's loss of enthusiasm toward this organization, an expert on Central Asia and Senior Correspondent at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Bruce Pannier told Trend.
"The sanctions against Russia are already having an effect on Kazakhstan and it is possible to see enthusiasm in Astana waning," he said.
Pannier said that Kazakh officials started looking for alternate export routes, especially for oil.
"That certainly won't help integrate trade with the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) countries since the likely alternative routes are through the Caucasus and China," Pannier said.
The Eurasian Economic Union is an economic union which is planned to be established by a treaty signed in May 2014 between the leaders of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia. All the three countries have already ratified the agreement on its creation. The Union will officially go into effect on 1 January 2015.
It will be based on the Customs Union and the Common Economic Space, which were established amid these countries in 2010 and 2012, respectively.
Under the treaty, member countries agree to guarantee the free flow of goods, services, capital and labor, and to implement a coordinated policy in the energy, industrial, agricultural and transport sectors across the union.
The republics of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have also expressed interest in joining the Union.
Kyrgyz government has recently approved the roadmap for the country's accession into the Common Economic Space (CES), which is another step towards Kyrgyzstan's entering the Eurasian Economic Union.
Pannier said that Kyrgyzstan is still planning on joining the EEU next year.
"Government officials are publicly in favor of joining the EEU but many merchants in Kyrgyzstan are not sure because it will complicate their trade with China," he said.
"Chinese goods, as non-EEU goods, would have extra tariffs and duties placed on them, increasing the price in Kyrgyzstan and making it more difficult to re-export them to neighboring Kazakhstan, for example," Pannier added.
With regard to Tajikistan's joining the EEU, Pannier believes that the country does not have much of a choice.
"Russia has so much influence in Tajikistan that Dushanbe is almost obligated to join, but in any case I think for Tajikistan if there is any chance at all of receiving goods, particularly Russian oil/gasoline, at slightly discounter prices Dushanbe would be glad to join," he said.
There certainly will not be the sort of debate in Tajikistan about joining the EEU that we've seen in Kyrgyzstan, Pannier believes.
"The date for Tajikistan's entry into the EEU is still not clear but the Tajik government seems to feel the sooner the country joins the Union, the better," he said.