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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Good afternoon,
We and our partners are continuing work on developing the Customs Union and preparing the way for even closer integration. Mr Khristenko, what is the current situation? You are in charge of this work, and so you know the problems that exist.
Minister of Industry and Trade Viktor Khristenko: It was a historical moment when the Customs Union began full operation on July 1, effectively removing the internal borders between us and shifting all customs controls to the external borders. We are now living in a completely new environment, one could say.
Dmitry Medvedev: Though not everyone seems to have realised this yet.
Viktor Khristenko: Perhaps not everyone has realised this yet, but the people living in the border regions are certainly aware of it because many barriers, even just technical barriers, have quite simply vanished from their lives. This is reflected in the statistics too, in the objective results: in 2009, aggregate trade between our three countries was $73 billion, last year it came to $88 billion, and this year we will easily pass the psychological threshold of $100 billion. Going on the upward pace over the first half of the year, we will see an increase of more than 40 percent…
Dmitry Medvedev: And this is not just energy resources, but trade overall.
Viktor Khristenko: Yes, this is the whole range of trade and not just the energy sector. The Customs Union is now operating in regular, all-enhancing fashion, and a lot of the work is already being handled by the supranational body that is the Customs Union Commission.
”We and our partners are continuing work on developing the Customs Union and preparing the way for even closer integration.“
We are now coming up to the next important date – January 1, 2012, when a whole package of already signed and ratified agreements on the single economic space will enter force. They will provide substantial new powers. The three countries will thus have a legislative framework comprising more than 100 international agreements – already a solid foundation. These are not just interstate instruments that must be implemented in national law, but are documents with direct effect, based on decisions that the parties must implement directly.
By January 1, we therefore have to prepare and clarify the executive bodies of the Customs Union, or rather not even the Customs Union now, but already the Eurasian Economic Community, which will have the Customs Union and the single economic space, and broader powers too.
Active work is underway on this agreement. We have held several rounds of consultations with the parties involved. There are certainly some details we still need to settle, but our plan is to have a broadly approved agreement that we can present to the three countries’ prime ministers by October 18. I will brief you on the details now.
Dmitry Medvedev: So, there is general agreement between everyone? I discussed this subject recently with the President of Kazakhstan, and it seems that practically every issue has been settled.
Viktor Khristenko: Yes, with the help of your discussions with the President of Kazakhstan and other contacts, a general agreement has been reached. I think we can be confident of completing the work on schedule. Certainly, all three countries have immense interest in ensuring that this organisation operates effectively, and this explains why some of the details have been the subject of such extensive discussions.
Dmitry Medvedev: The main thing is that we all want this, because this means that the integration we are pursuing, and this community that we are building, and this union to which we aspire will take on the proper outlines and bring maximum benefit to our peoples.