Russia ready to give up restrictions in Customs Union if others do the same - Putin

Russia is ready to abolish tax restrictions including on oil and petrochemicals in the Customs Union if other participants in the union do the same, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

Russia is ready to abolish tax restrictions including on oil and petrochemicals in the Customs Union if other participants in the union do the same, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

"Why we speak about concessions, we speak about the search for a balance of interests. The balance of interests suggests scraping exemptions in our customs rules, they all must be scrapped. We are ready to abolish restrictions on oil and petrochemicals - this is budget losses for us but we are ready to do it. However, we hope that the partners will meet us halfway eliminating exemptions that they think are important," Putin said at a news conference in Minsk on Thursday.

"It will take some time. [Kazakh President] Nursultan Nazarbayev has offered a formula that would allow us to agree upon a timeframe and further steps concerning these exemptions at a certain point. We agreed. It is a sensible and professional approach," the Russian president said.

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko supported this initiative.

"We are also ready to work without any exemptions if our partners do the same," he said.

"Indeed, it would mean competition, even tougher competition in certain spheres, but we are ready. We will move very rapidly to adopt a decision that will suit both the Russian Federation, Kazakhstan and Belarus," Lukashenko said.

In December 2010, the governments of Belarus and Russia signed an agreement regulating payments and receipt of export customs duties during the transportation of crude oil and individual categories of petrochemical products from Belarus outside the territory of the Customs Union. In accordance with this document, Belarus brought all its rates of export customs duties for oil and petrochemicals in line with those in Russia. Under the agreement, Belarus transfers all the export duties levied on petrochemicals made using Russian oil to Russia's budget.

Export duties levied on petrochemicals made from oil extracted in third countries go to the Belarusian budget.

In 2012, Belarus transferred $3.8 billion worth of export customs duties levied on petrochemicals produced from Russian oil to the Russian budget, as compared with $3.07 billion transferred the year before.

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