Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed on Monday a declaration that sees a Customs Code enter into force and makes the Customs Union fully operational, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said.
"It [the Customs Code] will come into force in trilateral relations on July 6, and for Russia and Kazakhstan, it came into force on July 1," Medvedev said during a news conference after a session of the member states of the Eurasian Economic Community (EurAsEC) in Astana.
The Customs Union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus formally came into existence on January 1, 2010, but was unable to start working fully until the Customs Code came into effect.
The Russian and Kazakh presidents approved the Customs Code in June. Belarus dragged its feet on the ratification, but Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko announced on Saturday that the country had also ratified the document.
EurAsEC comprises Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Its intergovernmental council doubles as the top body of the Customs Union.
First Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov told journalists after the EurAsEC session that differences between Russia and Belarus over export duties remain.
The disputed issues between Russia and Belarus include export duties on Russian oil and petroleum products to Belarus and the import of foreign cars and aircraft into the Union's customs territory. The issues delayed ratification of the Customs Code by Belarus.
Kyrgyzstan's new President Roza Otunbayeva said Monday her country was studying the possibility of joining the Customs Union.
"A working group has been formed which is studying issues of joining the Customs Union," she told journalists after a session of the EurAsEC intergovernmental council.
Tajik President Emomali Rakhmon also voiced his country's interest in accession to the union. "As regards Tajikistan's accession to the Customs Union, we are addressing it very seriously," he said.
The Customs Union agreement and some 20 other documents, including on the establishment of a common economic space between Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia and on measures to tackle the consequences of the global economic crisis, were signed at the EurAsEC summit, the Kremlin press service said Monday.
Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, hosting the current EurAsEC summit, said Monday the next meeting of the organization's intergovernmental council is due in Moscow in mid-December.
ASTANA, July 5 (RIA Novosti)