Право/13. Международное право


M.S. Iskalieyva Senior teacher, Master of Law Department of General Legal and Special Disciplines

Sadvokasova N., Medeuova M., Zeynollayeva A.

Karaganda Economic University




In recent years we have witnessed a trend towards restoration and strengthening of economic relations disrupted after the collapse of the USSR between the countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States and formation of a market-based common economic space of a few best-prepared countries. Others countries are to be included into the union when ready.

 Having greater potential and influence, Russia and Kazakhstan have played a leading role in this regional integration project.

The Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Tajikistan was launched on January 6, 1995 with the signing of the Agreement on the Customs Union between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan of January 20, 1995. The Kyrgyz Republic acceded to the union on March 29, 1996. At the same time the Republic of Belarus, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic and the Russian Federation signed an agreement on deepening integration in economic and humanitarian fields. On February 26, 1999 the agreement on the Customs Union and the abovementioned agreement were joined by the Republic of Tajikistan [1].

This is a long-term basis for the relations between the signatory states and is a framework document just like the majority of such-like documents in the Commonwealth. The proclaimed goals in economic, social and cultural cooperation are rather broad, diversified, and require long time for implementation.

In this regard, building a single economic space (art. 2 of the Agreement) for effective functioning of the common market of goods, services, capital and labor is reasonably impossible without passing several successive stages that must comply with the objective conditions and the level of development of the national economy.

Formation of a free-trade zone (regime) is the first evolutionary stage of economic integration. In cooperation with the partners, the parties transit to trade without import duties. There is a gradual elimination of non-tariff regulation measures without exceptions and restrictions in mutual trade.

The second stage is building a customs union. From the perspective of the movement of goods it is a trade regime which uses no internal restrictions in mutual trade, the member states use a common customs tariff, single system of preferences and exemptions, unified measures of non-tariff regulation, the same system of direct and indirect taxes, and witness the process of establishing a common customs tariff. The next step preceding the common commodity market is the creation of a single customs area, free movement of goods within the borders of the common market, a unified customs policy, and free competition within the customs area [1].

Adopted within the framework of the Commonwealth, Free Trade Agreement of April 15, 1994 stipulating the step-by-step elimination of customs duties, taxes and fees, as well as quantitative restrictions in mutual trade while maintaining each country's right for independent determination of the trade regime in relation to third countries could have been a legal basis for building a free trade zone and trade cooperation of the CIS states in terms of market reforms. However, solution to many specific issues on the basis of this agreement and its practical implementation requires specific approaches depending on the degree of mutual commitment of member states and their readiness for economic integration, and most importantly their understanding of real economic opportunities, benefits and expected losses.

In accordance with the decisions taken, the formation of the customs union was conducted in two phases [3].

The first phase (1992-1996) envisaged complete elimination of tariff and quantitative restrictions in mutual trade and set a single trade regime, common customs tariffs and non-tariff measures in relation to third countries.

The second phase (1997-2000) planned the unification of the customs territories of the three countries into a single customs territory with the transfer of customs control from internal to external borders of the Union.

By early 1996, the first stage of formation of the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan had been mostly completed (Kyrgyzstan joining the Customs Union in March, 1996 succeeded in solving its problems to a lesser extent).  Tariff and non-tariff barriers in mutual trade of the three countries were completely removed, and customs legislations are unified. In July 1996, the customs control and customs clearance at the border of the Russian Federation and Belarus were canceled and checkpoints eliminated. Moreover, a simplified procedure of customs control on the Russian-Kazakh border was established.

The Integration Committee identified 10 conditions to be met for complete formation of the customs union (a free trade zone without exceptions and limitations, unification of the external economic legislation, a uniform procedure of external economic regulation, a single trade regime with third countries, etc.). By mid-1996, according to the Integration Committee, the participating countries fully or partially completed six of these conditions.

Adopted in September, 1996, the decision to establish a single customs service of the Russian Federation and Belarus was an important step towards the creation of the customs union.

In shaping the customs union, a number of serious problems causing direct harm to the interests of Kazakhstan was revealed. Due to significant differences in the structures of the member countries' economies, it proved quite difficult to set up a customs tariff. National tariff rates differed quite significantly (for example, in Russia import duties on imported cars amounted in 1995 to 70%, while in Kazakhstan having no car industry this number was 25%). In January, 1996 the Russian Federation, Belarus and Kazakhstan have brought their import tariffs to a common - Russian - standard (although Russia has made concessions to partners in some commodities). Soon, however, first Belarus and Kazakhstan and then Russia started to break the agreement and unilaterally change the rates. As a result, the already settled question of establishing a single rate was placed on the agenda again.

Another problem was the control at the external borders of the Customs Union. Although the agreements signed provide for an effective joint control aimed at preventing uncontrolled import and export, in real-world terms it was lagging behind the liberalization of mutual trade within the Customs Union. The countries which suffered to a great extent from this situation were Russia and Kazakhstan. For example, illegal inflow of commodities into the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation on a large scale was carried out through Belarus from Ukraine and the Baltic countries, which used the lack of effective control on the borders of Belarus with Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania. At virtually open borders of Kazakhstan with the states of Central Asia, there had been a danger of illegal import of arms and drugs to Russia from those States.

According to the Customs Committee of the Russian Federation, unreported imports from countries outside the customs union to Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan are estimated at US $ 6 billion annually. Despite this, development and adoption of effective measures for protecting external borders of the Customs Union and the Commonwealth of Independent States in general was unreasonably stalled.

The question is what stand within the Customs Union was to be taken by Kazakhstan with regard to both successes and achievements and serious problems. There are 2 approaches to this issue. Advocates of the first approach believed that the customs union in its present state is in fact a burden for Kazakhstan and suggested to delay the related efforts for at least as long as the partner countries  come close to Kazakhstan in the main economic parameters.


Reference list

1. Customs-tariff regulation in the Republic of Kazakhstan. / Comp. N.V. Ovchinnikov. - Pavlodar: Info-T, 2009


2. Shurubovich A. The Customs Union of the CIS and Russian interests: // Problems of the theory and practice of management.

3. Yu.V. Shishkov. Integration process in Western Europe: tendencies and contradictions. /Yu.V. Shishkov. - Moscow, 2009