Russia, Ex-Soviet States Create Free- Trade Zone

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ST PETERSBURG (Dow Jones) — Russia and seven other post-Soviet states, including Ukraine, signed an agreement on creating a free-trade zone Tuesday, in another step in Moscow’s drive to rebuild economic ties among former Soviet republics.

“The creation of this zone doesn’t contradict the norms of the World Trade Organization,” Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin told reporters after the signing late Tuesday.

The countries whose prime ministers signed the agreement on Tuesday, besides Russia and Ukraine, were Moldova, Belarus, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. Three of them — Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan — have already formed a trade group called the Customs Union.

On January 1, 2012, the Customs Union members are planning to create the socalled Common Economic Space, which will coordinate its members’ macroeconomic policies, competition rules and agriculture subsidies, among other issues. Putin called for the creation of a Eurasian economic union to be built on the base of the Customs Union in an article published in a Russian newspaper on October 4.

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