Kazakhstan: Bloggers discuss the Customs Union and public welfare

Bloggers discuss what the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which came into force on January 1, 2010, would give Kazakhstan. A trade bloc of three countries is viewed by the governments as the first step towards deeper integration into the Eurasian Economic Union.

Some experts believe this is the right decision for the Kazakh authorities, especially in view of looming Chinese economic influence. Skeptics say the protectionism in favor of Russian goods and services would raise prices for the more competitive goods and services from the third countries. Many see this step as a death sentence to the local manufacturers, while others say there are no serious manufacturing businesses to kill here.

Grunge Amir considers the Customs Union as a conspiracy against Kazakhstan [ru]:

Kazakhstan is sold out to Russia – it's a fact. 82 per cent of the customs tariffs will remain unchanged in Russia, 75 per cent of the tariffs stay the same in Belarus, and only 45 per cent will be kept unamended in Kazakhstan.

Megakhuimyak is more optimistic [ru]:

There is one detail in the Customs Union – Kazakhstan has got the lowest taxes among three countries. So, it is quite possible that part of the businesses will move here, especially from Belarus.

Thousand-Pa notes the first signs of discord within the Union [ru]:

How do you like that? The newborn Customs Union is already showing the symptoms of self-destruction. Russia to Belarus – “No money, no oil”. Belarus to Russia – “No oil, no transit of natural gas”. There was so much ado about this Union…

Meanwhile, Epolet reads official statistics and notes [ru]:

Propaganda says that average salary in Kazakhstan has grown 535,5 times since 1993. Well, if you re-calculate it according to the dollar's exchange rate, the growth will make up nearly 14,3 times. And still, even if we take into account depreciation of currencies, the growth curve is on hand.

But, torrnado adds, some people take much more from this curve than the others [ru]:

The fortune of only one former Kazakhstani official makes up nearly 3 per cent of the country's GDP. Oligarchs with the “Soviet” roots occupy the leading positions in the top 300 most wealthy Swiss citizens. Victor Khrapunov, former mayor of Almaty currently living in Geneva, is also there with the fortune amounted to 300-400 million francs.

Needless to say, this person has never had any business and spent all his life on public service.

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