Thursday, June 21, 2012 -
The three customs union partners agreed Tuesday to resume talks next week in an attempt to see eye-to-eye on alcohol and cigarettes taxes after Russia hiked its own rates.
Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Shatalov told journalists in Moscow that negotiators representing the finance ministries of Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus were having a hard time finding common ground.
Russia is expecting Kazakhstan and Belarus to increase their excise duties on cigarettes and alcoholic drinks to its level, Shatalov said.
The Kremlin recently raised its own rates on alcohol and cigarettes to levels six or seven times above those imposed by the governments of Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Moscow fears that unless the other two countries match its level, Russia will be swamped by inexpensive cigarettes and alcohol from Kazakhstan and Belarus, damaging the business of domestic producers.
Shatalov said the finance ministry representatives will focus their talks next Wednesday on setting up a strategy on how to harmonize their duties, the Belarusian news agency Naviny.by reported.
The trilateral group shares a common economic space allowing for free movement of goods, services, capital, and labor, creating a market of 168 million people.