Russia And Belarus To Form Common Economic Zone

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said the plan of actions to form a common economic zone between Russia and Belarus has been practically finalized by now. As he was opening a ministerial session of the Russia-Belarus Union in Moscow's White House federal government headquarters Tuesday, Premier Kasyanov reported that apart from measures in the budgetary and the monetary policies, the plan had been supplemented with a segment related to structural reform in the Russia-Belarus Union. Among other things, the reform concerns the development of common principles for setting transportation and energy prices. The reform's main priority will be to jumpstart the Union's integrated economy, making it possible for Russian and Belarusian companies to cooperate in a common business environment, with the same taxes, customs duties, and tariffs. The Russian Premier believes that if Russia and Belarus follow the plan at hand, the mutual complementarity of their economies will manifest itself before long. Guidelines for next year's activity of the Russia-Belarus Union's Supreme State Council and Council of Ministers are high on the agenda. According to Kasyanov, the blueprints have already been drawn up, and envisage not only the introduction of a common currency, but also the creation of a common economic zone in the territory of Russia and Belarus. The delegates to the current Russo-Belarusian ministerial session are going to assess progress in the execution of the Union's 2001 budget and in the drafting of a 2002 budget.

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