Kyrgyzstan joins Russia-backed economic bloc

Kyrgyzstan joins Russia-backed economic bloc

BISHKEK – Agence Frence-Presse
Kyrgyzstan joins Russia-backed economic bloc

AFP photo

Kyrgyzstan became Aug. 6 the fifth member of a Moscow-backed 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 Economic 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, the Eurasian Economic Commission, said on Thursday that the ratification process was “completed” and that it was waiting for a final note from Kyrgyzstan’s neighbour, Kazakhstan, which it expects “in the next few days.”  

“After the note is deposited by the Eurasian Economic Commission, and in accordance with the contract, the Kyrgyz Republic will become a full participant of the Eurasian Economic Union,” said the Commission in a statement distributed to media.

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.