Belarus continues to demand removal of all trade barriers within Eurasian Economic Union

Mr. Lukashenka said that while Kazakhstan and Russia seemed to have no objections to free trade regime exceptions, Belarus viewed them as unacceptable.

Belarus continues to demand the abolition of all exceptions from the Eurasian Economic Union’s free trade regime as a matter of principle, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on Tuesday while answering questions from members of the National Assembly after delivering his annual address to the nation and legislature.

Mr. Lukashenka noted that Russian leaders Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev had expressed readiness two or two and a half years ago to scrap all trade restrictions within the Eurasian Economic Union, which is to come into existence on January 1, 2015.

Mr. Lukashenka said that while Kazakhstan and Russia seemed to have no objections to free trade regime exceptions, Belarus viewed them as unacceptable. “If we’re forming an economic union, the foundation of a future union, there should be no impediments to the movement of capital of workforce, everything should be like in one state,” he said. “Everybody, from Ukraine to Tajikistan, is watching us very closely.”

Belarus, for instance, should not be required to pay between $3.5 billion and $4 billion to Russia every year in revenues from its export duty on petroleum products made from Russian crude oil, he said.

Mr. Lukashenka said that he would remind the presidents of Russia and Kazakhstan of Belarus’ demand during a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Minsk on April 29. He indicated that Belarus would not sign a draft agreement on the formation of the Eurasian Economic Union unless its condition was met. He warned that failure to cut the deal would disgrace the presidents of the three countries in the eyes of people. “We’ve failed the CIS, didn’t achieve the goals declared by the treaty on the formation of the Union State of Belarus and Russia,” he explained. “We’ve switched to this project, so let us do at least something here.”