Prime ministers of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia to discuss car import duties this week

The prime ministers of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia are expected to discuss import duties on automobiles for individuals within the countries' Customs Union at their talks in St.Petersburg on May 21, BelaPAN reports.

"The issue regarding cars is to be solved at the level of prime ministers on May 21 in St.Petersburg. There are concerns over the matter, of course," RIA Novosti quoted Vladimir Ivin, a senior official at Russia's Federal Customs Service, as saying on Tuesday.

The matter has been a major bone of contention within the nascent Customs Union, as the Belarusian government appears to be balking at raising its import duty on cars to Russia's level for fear of causing a fierce outcry from the public.

Belarus' customs officials warned earlier this year that the country's import duties on cars for individuals would rise to Russia's level on July 1, when the Customs Union comes into full existence.

Experts estimate that that the rate of import duty on certain cars could rise tenfold in Belarus following the establishment of the Customs Union. Mr. Ivin said that various possibilities were explored to prevent any harm to Russia's ailing carmakers following the establishment of the Customs Union.