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Kyrgyzstan: Is Bishkek Stalling on Customs Union?

Shuttle trade between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan could halt if Bishkek joins the Moscow-led Customs Union. (Photo: David Trilling.)

When it comes to joining the Moscow-led Customs Union, Kyrgyzstan is setting the bar high. Some political analysts say it’s deliberately too high.

The current members of the Customs Union -- Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan -- at present aren’t willing to agree to Kyrgyzstan’s conditions for accession, and some Russian experts contend that officials in Bishkek are trying to drag out the process. With a weak, import-heavy economy, coupled with combustible domestic political conditions, procrastination has a compelling logic for Kyrgyz authorities, they say.

A roadmap for membership, a document drafted by Kyrgyz policymakers in coordination with lobbyists and experts from different sectors of the economy, would serve as the basis for Bishkek’s accession into the union, provided it meets the approval of current members, as well as the body’s regulator, the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC). But at the seventh meeting of an intergovernmental working group on Kyrgyz entry, held in mid-August, a draft roadmap was rejected and sent to the regulator for modifications. The working group hasn’t met since.

To read the full story

Chris Rickleton is a Bishkek-based journalist. Gulnaz Isabekova contributed reporting.

Kyrgyzstan: Is Bishkek Stalling on Customs Union?

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