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Kyrgyz Opposition Party Cautious On Joining Russia-Led Customs Union

A train loaded with tomato paste stopped at a customs checkpoint in Bishkek in January
BISHKEK -- Members of Kyrgyzstan's opposition Ata-Meken (Fatherland) parliament faction say the country should not rush to join the Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russia Customs Union, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.

Ata-Meken deputy Joomart Saparbaev told RFE/RL on April 20 that faction members agreed at a special session that all the pros and cons of membership in the union should be thoroughly studied in order to avoid any negative repercussions for the country's economy and people's lives.

Some Ata-Meken deputies said joining the customs union could lead to price hikes for many goods.

The Kyrgyz government announced on April 11 it wanted to join the union. Cabinet members say membership would improve the status of Kyrgyz labor migrants in Kazakhstan and Russia.

The Belarus-Kazakhstan-Russia Customs Union was launched last year. It offers trade privileges to member countries, including lower export-import tariffs and therefore cheaper prices for many goods.

The Ukrainian and Tajik governments have also expressed an interest in joining the union.

Read more in Kyrgyz here