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    EURASEC BOSSES RACK BRAINS FOR FREIGHT FREEDOM

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    ALMA ATA, February 25, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Transport facilities and tariffs will stay in the foreground for top EURASEC executive agencies within a few next years, Grigori Rapota, EURASEC Secretary General, announced on the eve of one of its regular Interstate Council sessions.

    The EURASEC, or Eurasian Economic Community, brings together Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.

    The Community will never achieve genuine integration so long as commodity transportation is impeded, Mr. Rapota stressed in a Novosti interview.

    Draconian transport tariffs make commodities non-competitive. As goods travel from Central Asian EURASEC countries via Russia and Belarus, they lose all hope to survive tough European competition. Same about freights from, let say, Belarus to Asia.

    Community countries have not yet agreed between themselves for tariffs that would leave them all satisfied. What the EURASEC needs is a simple and explicit formula to remove all transport barriers. It has failed to come to such a formula for today, sighed Grigori Rapota.

    Another burning problem is closely related to the former. That is unifying customs duties for EURASEC imports from third countries. The matter will come under debate, Friday next, as the Interstate Council gathers for a prime-ministerial session in Alma Ata, recent Kazakh capital. Also prominent on the agenda will be coordination of Community countries' stances at negotiations to join the World Trade Organisation, added our interviewee.

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