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Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus Sign Accord on Economic Union

The presidents of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan signed an accord in Moscow to integrate their economies’ $2 trillion in combined output and form the basis of the Eurasian Union.

“We will create a lasting, efficient and well-developed economic union,” Russian President Dmitry Medvedev told reporters today at a briefing with Belarus’s Alexander Lukashenko and Kazakhstan’s Nursultan Nazarbayev in the Kremlin.

The three former Soviet republics, with a combined population of 170 million people, will create a single economic space from Jan. 1. The Eurasian Union, which won’t be formed before 2015, aims to coordinate economic and currency policy and adopt unified visa and migration rules.

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who plans to return to the Kremlin next year, spearheaded the creation of the union, writing in an Oct. 4 article that an emerging Russian-led bloc in the former Soviet Union will help reduce global imbalances and fuel integration across “Greater Europe.”

Medvedev said the group is seeking to create a powerful market better able to withstand global economic downturns. Russia wants to restore economic, industrial and defense ties with its neighbors, which were severed after the breakup of the Soviet Union twenty years ago.

The three nations are building an economic alliance based on World Trade Organization principles, according to the declaration signed today. While none of the states is a member of the arbiter, Russia’s accession may be approved by trade ministers at a Dec. 15-17 meeting in Geneva.

Nazarbayev urged his partners to reduce the dollar’s use in trade and increase settlements in national currencies, adding that further integration may lead to the adoption of a common monetary unit.

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