YEREVAN, September 3. /ARKA/. The Armenian government should not rush to ratify a free trade regime, which the majority of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) countries agreed to set up after two decades of debate, a former prime minister Hrant Bagratian, told a news conference today.
The agreement was signed on the 18th of October 2011 by Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan and Ukraine.
Speaking at a news conference, Bagratian, now an MP fr om the opposition Armenian National Congress, said many issues in the agreement have not yet been clarified and this is why the government of Armenia should not rush to ratify it.
After signing the agreement Russian prime minister Putin said: ‘We will cancel export and import duties on certain groups of goods. There are certain exemptions ... but they will gradually become a thing of the past."
According to Bagratian, the only exemption for Armenia is the export of tobacco products, while for Russia and Ukraine there are hundreds of exemptions.
The former prime minister also said that it is not yet clear wh ere the money raised by free trade regime would go to. He said if a single customs union is set up as part of the free trade zone, all amounts would be sent to a particular center, and only then distributed to member countries.
According to Bagratian, this system is not acceptable to Armenia, since such a long circulation of money can lead to devaluation of the Armenian dram, and eventually it may have the same fate as Belarusian currency.
Also, he said, it is still unclear how the creation of the customs union envisaged by the free trade regime agreement may hamper Armenia to establish similar alliances or join, in particular, the European Customs Union.
"In my opinion, until all these issues are clarified, the treaty can not be ratified,» concluded Bagratian. -0-