Kyrgyzstan joined the Eurasian Economic Union on May 8 in spite of the fears that the accession could be delayed until the end of May because of fundamental differences between Kyrgyzstan's national interests and EEU regulations.
However, the customs border between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan will not be eliminated until the fall, Kyrgyz Minister of Economy Oleg Pankratov said.
According to the economic ministry it would take all the other members of the union - Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Armenia - until the fall to ratify the document on Kyrgyzstan's accession. "It will all depend on the member-countries of the union. We have an agreement with the governments to speed up the process. But everything will depend on the countries. As for us, we will ratify the agreement expediently," Minister Pankratov assured on May 18. Kyrgyzstan's Parliament ratified the accession agreement on May 21, first among the union's members.
The agreement on Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the EEU was signed in December of last year at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Moscow. Kyrgyzstan was scheduled to fully join the union before May 8 upon completion of all the internal ratification procedures. But on April 23 Kyrgyzstan's Minister of Economy Temir Sariyev declared that the deadline had to be extended.
“Kyrgyzstan’s delegation adheres to the principle that the country will join the Eurasian Economic Union without hampering its national interests. Given the existing controversies the agreement on Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the Eurasian Economic Union and the protocols may not be ratified by May 8,” Sariyev told Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev after the Moscow meeting of the Eurasian Economic Commission Council.
According to Sariyev, there were two fundamental differences hindering the process for Kyrgyzstan. First, Kyrgyzstan insisted on maintaining preferential import duties on Chinese construction materials that are imported to Kyrgyzstan. It was concerned that once it joins the EEU, cheap Chinese construction materials would flood the Kyrgyz market through the borders of other members of the union, putting the domestic producers out of business.
Secondly, Kyrgyzstan insisted that no additional audits of its veterinary inspection documents were done by the member states to ensure greater freedom of movement for its agricultural goods. "Article 58 of the EEU treaty envisages mutual recognition of veterinary control documents issued by the authorities of EEU member-states. Thus, becoming a full member of the EEU, Kyrgyzstan is eligible for the recognition of veterinary documents without additional audits," Sariyev said.
The fate of the accession remained hanging until mutually acceptable solutions were finally found on both issues only days before Kyrgyzstan joined the EEU on May 8 as scheduled.
The Eurasian Economic Union is an economic integration of Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus and Armenia. It has a single market of 176 million people and a gross domestic product of over 4 trillion U.S. dollars. The union operates through supranational and intergovernmental institutions and provides free movement of goods, capital, services and people.
The EEU membership is open to other countries that share its goals and principles.
The idea of the EEU was put forward by President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev in 1994. Now, twenty years later this idea is being realized.
World media monitoring