Kazakhstan's WTO accession and its impact on Eurasian Economic Union

The accession of Kazakhstan to World Trade Organization (WTO) took almost twenty years, one of the longest negotiations in the history of the organization. The negotiations were also complicated by the fact that Kazakhstan was bound by its commitments to the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). The EEU maintains Common External Tariffs (CET) for imports from non-member countries and it was initially planned that countries will support each other with accession to the WTO, particularly such an agreement existed between Russia and Kazakhstan.

Although Russia was already a member of WTO, it was difficult for Kazakh negotiators to find compromise in lowering tariffs for around two thousand categories of goods. This resulted in large number of exemptions, when tariffs of Kazakhstan are different from CET of the EEU.

This article discusses the impact of the Kazakhstan’s accession to the WTO on the workings of the EEU in the light of the above mentioned exemptions and differences in foreign economic policies of the EEU member states. Kazakhstan’s more liberal commitments to the WTO may have serious implications on the EEU, particularly it might result in increase in non-tariff barriers and hinder further trade liberalization among the EEU members.

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