The Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will not start work at full strength on schedule, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Saturday.
The Union's Custom code was due to start operating on July 1, but on Friday Putin said the premiers of the three former Soviet republics had failed to resolve disputes at a meeting in St. Petersburg.
He said the negotiation process would be continued by experts over the next two weeks.
The Customs Union formally came into existence on January 1, but is unable to stat working until the Customs code is approved.
When asked by journalists from the Mir TV channel if the Union would be able to start work at full strength from July 1, Putin replied "No, it will not."
Putin said on Friday that the differences the premiers had been unable to resolve were in areas such as the auto and aerospace industries, which most concerned Russia, customs duties - an issue for Belarus - and the private import of goods by individuals for personal use, of particular sensitivity for Kazakhstan.
Belarusian Prime Minister Sergei Sidorsky clarified that it was duties on oil and petroleum products that troubled his country. Moscow and Minsk faced off at the start of the year over tariffs on imports of Russian oil, which Belarus said should be completely duty-free in the Customs Union.
Putin said talks would continue on the outstanding issues, which were serious and should not be rushed.
Sidorsky and Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov also reaffirmed the need for further coordination.
"We need additional coordination," Sidorsky said. "Up to now, our positions have not come together."
Putin also told the Mir TV channel that he wanted to see work on the resolution of issues linked to the formation of single economic space between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
In January 2009, the three former Soviet republics agreed to create a single economic space by January 1, 2012.
"I have proposed that we speed up the resolution of issues connected with the creation of a single economic space," the Russian premier said, adding that he wanted to see all the necessary paperwork completed by the end of 2010, a year ahead of schedule.
However, he added that even if these documents were then signed and ratified earlier than planned, the single economic space should only come into existence "as we agreed - from July 1, 2012."
MOSCOW, May 22 (RIA Novosti)