The details of the economic integration program between Belarus and Russia became public. It is designed for a year and a half and provides for partial integration of the two economic systems since January 2021, the Kommersant agency reports.
The news agency notes that integration is unlikely to be completely equal for the parties – the Russian economy is 29 times larger than the Belarusian one.
“This is at least a single Tax Code, a foreign trade regime and the Civil Code, a unified account of property and similar social guarantees, almost unified banking supervision, but with two central banks, a single regulator of the markets for oil, gas, electricity and energy and harmonized government control of the industries,” the text reads.
According to the agency, such level of integration is higher than in the EU, and in fact, is about the creation of a confederated or even federal states at the level of economies from 2021.
What is in the plan?
The “Action Program” includes the following points:
- Mutual cancellation of roaming from 1 June 2020;
- Tax consolidation. It is assumed that the Union State of Russia and Belarus will adopt a unified Tax Code by 1 April 2021;
- A common customs policy that may include joint customs raids, a common information system and almost a common customs service;
- Energy policy. The document implies the creation of a “single regulator” of gas, oil, oil products and electricity markets;
- Common principles of “special economic measures” – counter-sanctions;
- Social politics. Since January 2022, two states within the Union State also intend to pursue a “coordinated policy” in the labor market and social protection.
However, with regard to the latter, only a “rapprochement of the level” of social guarantees and “equal rights” of citizens of the two countries is promised in the future. Among other things is that by November 1, 2019, both ministries of the economy should create “road maps” unifying industry regulation.
In addition to the fuel and energy complex, it proposes to harmonize an “industrial policy”, the state regulatory regime for agricultural markets, trade, transport and communications, antitrust policy, consumer protection policies. By 2021, mutual unified access to public procurements, a unified property accounting system and the unification of economic legislation.
The “Action Program” doesn’t include the following spheres: defense, state security, courts, law enforcement and issues of Interior Ministry, education, healthcare, science, and the state government.
Treaty on the Union State
Recall that last year December, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that Russia was ready to keep building the Union State in terms with the Treaty on the Union State, signed by Minsk and Moscow in 1999.
According to the treaty, countries should have a single currency, a single court, a single customs. It also provided for further steps in integration – the path to a single parliament and one president.
In July, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to resolve all integration disputes and develop an action strategy program before 8 December. The date will mark the 20th anniversary of the Union State of Belarus and Russia.
According to the Prime Minister of Belarus Sergey Rumas, the core of this program is “two countries – one market” with no political connotations in it. He also promised to have the program published to remove concerns about sovereignty.
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Later, the Minister of Economic Development of Russia Maxim Oreshkin said that integration is not a question of unification of states, but “the integration of economies as equal partners.”
In late August, the project was presented to Alexander Lukashenko. On 6 September, the Prime Ministers of Belarus and Russia Sergey Rumas and Dmitry Medvedev agreed on its minor changes.
The document has not been officially published yet.