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23 August 2011
Customs Union trade up 41% in H1 - Putin

MOSCOW. Aug 23 (Interfax) - Trade between the Customs Union countries - Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus - rose 41% to $29.3 billion in the first half of 2011, up from $20.8 billion in the same period last year, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said at a government meeting.

The customs borders between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan were erased effective July 1, 2011, "to form a full-fledged, unified customs territory," Putin said. A meeting of the Cabinet of the Russian-Belarusian Union State, "seriously advanced the energy dialog," resulting in a principle agreement to determined the price of gas for Belarus beginning in 2012 using a special, declining integration coefficient, he said. The government bodies and companies concerned will determine the actual coefficients in the near future, he said.

The government session expected to discuss the issue of customs duties for oil and product exported to Belarus. The issue is technical in nature and will address customs procedures, to ensure that the Russian budget receives the exact amount it is due, he said.

The meeting will also examine the agreement on cooperation between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan in the currency and finance area. "This document is part of the legal basis for the Common Economic Space, which is to take effect on January 1, 2012," he said.

It will involve creating the basis for closer cooperation of the currency control bodies, he said. Specifically, procedures concerning the exchange of information between the relevant bodies will be simplified and procedures will be set up for providing assistance, exchanging experiences and personnel training.

"Here I believe it important to emphasize that we are not creating any barriers for business or investors. I point out that Russia even at the height of the crisis, in late 2008-early 2009, did not place any limits on cross-border capital flows," Putin said.

The goal of the agreement will be to ensure the integrity of the financial system and compliance with currency law overall.