The prime ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) member states have signed a free trade agreement, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
The agreement eliminates export and import duties on a host of goods. It also contains a number of exemptions that will ultimately be phased out.
The agreement was signed by all the CIS states except Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
“As a result of the long, sharp, but constructive talks we…have agreed today to sign a CIS free trade zone agreement,” Putin said earlier.
Putin stressed that the deal is “a fundamental document that will lay the groundwork for long-term relations.”
The CIS, a loose association of former Soviet republics, consists of Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Ukraine has not ratified the CIS Charter but participates in its activities.
The CIS has been trying to form a free trade zone since as far back as the early 1990s and held a summit in Moscow in May in which a draft agreement was presented, but there was no final signature.
Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia formed their own Customs Union earlier this year.