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Kazakh Premier Says Kyrgyzstan Should Join CIS Customs Union


Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov held talks with senior Kyrgyz officials in Bishkek this week.

Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov held talks with senior Kyrgyz officials in Bishkek this week.

BISHKEK -- Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Masimov has said Kyrgyzstan should join the Commonwealth of Independent States' Customs Union in order to simplify the border-crossing process for Kyrgyz labor migrants, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Masimov said at a press conference in Bishkek on September 16 that all the problems Kyrgyz labor migrants experience crossing the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border and working in Kazakhstan and Russia would be solved if Kyrgyzstan joined the customs union.

The Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russia Customs Union was launched last year. It offers trade privileges to member countries including lower export-import tariffs, cheaper prices for many goods, and simplified procedures for travel, residence, and work permits for citizens of member states.

Kyrgyz Prime Minister Almazbek Atambaev agreed with Masimov that Kyrgyzstan could solve many problems -- including those faced by labor migrants -- if it joined the customs union.

Atambaev said these problems were on the agenda for a meeting of the Kazakh-Kyrgyz Intergovernmental Commission on September 16.

Atambaev has called several times in the past for Kyrgyzstan to join the customs union, but many politicians oppose it.

The commission also discussed a barter agreement under which Kazakhstan would supply Kyrgyzstan with natural gas in return for water, and the opening in Bishkek of the headquarters of the Kazakh-Kyrgyz Investment Fund.

The bilateral agreement on setting up the fund was signed in 2007. Masimov said it will total $100 million.

Read more in Kyrgyz here
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