EEU-China Trade Agreement Talks to Avoid Customs Duties

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Economic cooperation talks between the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) and China will not deal with reducing or eliminating customs duties between the two economies, Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) Trade Minister Veronika Nikishina said Tuesday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Leaders of Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) member states gathered in Kazakhstan's capital of Astana earlier on Tuesday for a EEU Supreme Council meeting. The bloc's leaders discussed approaches to trade and economic partnership with China and resolved to start talks on the formation of the partnership, according to Russia's Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov.

"For now, a non-preferential trade agreement, which does not have an impact on customs duties, was discussed, since the countries of the bloc are not objectively ready for such a liberalization of trade with one of the world's leading economies," Nikishina told RIA Novosti.

The cooperation agreement must mainly address the lifting of non-tariff barriers for mutual trade, she stressed, adding that it must also deal with developing cooperation in the areas of customs administration, sanitary and phytosanitary norms, technical regulations, intellectual property and electronic commerce.

"Also, the [Eurasian Economic] Commission will have to evaluate the benefits of deeper integration and regularly report to the EEC," Nikishina said.

The Russia-led EEU, in existence since January 2015, provides for the free movement of goods, services, capital and labor among its five member states including Russia, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Belarus. The EEC acts as the EEU's executive body.

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