Kyr­gyzs­tan be­comes 5th mem­ber of Rus­sia-backed eco­nomic bloc

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

Kyr­gyzs­tan be­came Thurs­day the fifth mem­ber of a Moscow­backed eco­nomic bloc of for­mer Soviet coun­tries, a move firmly link­ing the Cen­tral Asian state to Rus­sia at the risk of dis­rupt­ing trade with China.

The im­pov­er­ished na­tion of six mil­lion peo­ple signed ac­ces­sion pa­pers for the Eurasian Eco- nomic Union (EEU) in De­cem­ber, but had to wait for the bloc’s four other mem­bers — Ar­me­nia, Be­larus, Kaza­khstan and Rus­sia — to rat­ify its en­try.

The bloc’s main reg­u­la­tory body said Wed­nes­day Kyr­gyzs­tan would of­fi­cially be­come the fifth mem­ber of the bloc on Aug. 6 af­ter its mem­ber­ship was for­mally ap­proved by neigh­bor­ing Kaza­khstan.

In 1998, Kyr­gyzs­tan was the first of the ex- Soviet states to join the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WTO) and has since grown into a hub for the re-ex­port of Chi­nese goods through­out the re­gion af­ter Bei­jing joined the WTO in 2001.

But Eurasian Union tar­iffs on im­ports are sig­nif­i­cantly higher than WTO tar­iffs, rais­ing fears that EEU mem­ber­ship will lead to a rise in prices in the mainly agrar­ian econ­omy.

Union mem­ber­ship may how­ever ease bu­reau­cratic trou­bles for up to a mil­lion Kyr­gyz mi­grants liv­ing and work­ing in Rus­sia, whose re­mit­tances hold the key to so­cial sta­bil­ity in the po­lit­i­cally frag­ile na­tion.

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