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Putin Hails Former Soviet Nations' Free Trade Deal

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir PutinRussian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
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Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has hailed a free trade deal signed by eight former Soviet republics in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) as a "fundamental" pact that would boost cooperation in the loose regional grouping.

"We are opening up our markets to each other, which means that goods will be brought to our markets at lower prices," he said. "This, in turn, will provide better conditions for starting new joint enterprises. All of this, of course, increases the competitiveness of all of our economies."

The pact was signed by Russia, Armenia, Moldova, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Belarus.

It was unexpectedly announced after talks between regional prime ministers in St. Petersburg on October 18.

The deal would come into effect next year provided that it is ratified by the parliaments of the eight countries.

Putin said it would replace a 1994 deal that some CIS states never ratified.

Putin said the other three CIS states -- Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan -- would study the agreement and consider signing it before the end of the year.

Putin is expected to push for greater regional cooperation on October 19 when he meets his counterparts from Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Russia hopes Ukraine will join a Customs Union which also comprises Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The CIS was created in 1991 as the Soviet Union was collapsing and grew to include all former Soviet republics except the three Baltic states.

Georgia quit the CIS after a five-day war with Russia in 2008.

compiled from agency reports
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by: Alex from: LA
October 18, 2011 21:50
That's good news for those countries that signed it. Next step for EU and CIS to form a free trade agreement and push Georgia to join it too.

by: CBL from: california
October 19, 2011 08:38
I love Russians and Ukrainians .. and all the rest .. but .. this is just "let's huddle together because our societies are so corrupt that we can't get into any other trade union" .. sad .. but I like it better this way .. I like to live and travel there .. this will only keep these countries more different and interesting .. if also more difficult for those families that grow there .. I love Mr. Putin .. I never thought I would live in such a world that only my father's generation had experienced .. the 1940's .. still it is the fault of the West that Russia was pushed in the 1990's and the people felt humiliated .. now they just love Putin who will give them this pride again .. either that .. or protect them from the disorderly organized crime that might take over the cities if the people were allowed to vote for mayor for instance .. or have TV stations that are not owned by the Kremlin .. much more interesting this way ..

by: leo from: usa
October 19, 2011 16:54
This is a very good idea, should have been done years ago.

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