December 2013 was a month of massive political and economic changes in Central Asia and Eastern Europe—particularly former communist bloc. Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) became stronger and Custom Union expanded while Ukrainian people protested strongly against the decision of its government of not joining EU roadmap.
The Armenian parliament ratified natural gas agreement with Russia. Under the agreement and now the Russian gas export monopoly Gazprom will gain full control of Armenia’s natural gas distribution company ArmRosgazprom. Gazprom previously owned 80 percent of the company and now receives the remaining 20 percent of shares.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov ratified a protocol to join an agreement on free trade between former Soviet states, a presidential spokesman said Saturday. The protocol was signed at a meeting of prime ministers of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), a loose association of former Soviet republics, in the Belarusian capital Minsk on May 31, 2013.
In line with the deal, approved by Uzbekistan’s lower house of parliament on November 29, and by the upper house December 13, disputable issues are resolved through bilateral talks.
Local experts predict that Uzbekistan’s economy will benefit from the country entering the free trade zone. The nation’s products – particularly fruits and vegetables, which are already popular in CIS countries – will now be much easier to export.
Russia remains a major trade partner with Uzbekistan. Mutual trade between the two countries exceeded US$7 billion in 2012.
Overall, experts expect the move to induce investments – including from the West – into Uzbekistan’s economy, raise GDP, and decrease the country’s unemployment rate.
Uzbekistan has become the ninth member to join the treaty, which was signed by Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, and Tajikistan in October 2011. The treaty first came into force between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus in September 2012. The other countries are joining the zone in the order established by the treaty.
The free trade zone area was designed to reduce all trade fees on a number of goods between participating countries. Until now, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan were the only members of the 11-strong union which had not joined the agreement. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have signed the deal but not ratified it yet. CIS leaders first agreed on creating a free trade zone in 1994.
Armenia and Kyrgyzstan signed treaty for joining custom Union and it looks the concept of Integration of former soviet bloc that is a dream for Russian President Vladimir Putin may become reality in forthcoming years.