The majority of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries have agreed to set up a free trade regime after two decades of debate, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said late on Tuesday.
"As a result of long, heated, but constructive negotiations we have made a decision on the main issue we've gathered here for today. We've agreed today to sign an agreement on a free trade zone in the CIS," Putin said.
The CIS includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. Putin said the document was signed by all the CIS states except Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, which will consider signing the agreement by the end of the year.
"We will cancel export and import duties on certain groups of goods. There are certain exemptions ... but they will gradually become a thing of the past," Putin said.
The CIS prime ministers also signed an agreement on the basic principles of currency regulation and currency controls in the CIS.