Russia has offered Tajikistan observer status in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Avesta news agency reported on April 20, citing remarks made by Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov at the Tajik-Russian Intergovernmental Commission for Economic Cooperation held in Moscow last week.
The EEU is a Russia-led trade bloc, which also includes Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan. The only country currently holding an observer status in the EEU is Moldova. Vietnam has a free trade agreement with the EEU.
“We have offered Tajikistan the opportunity to seriously consider the status of an observer country of the EEU,” Shuvalov was quoted as saying. “We ask the Tajik side to treat this issue with attention, because the issues of phytosanitary control, veterinary control, technical regulation, and standards would later lead to more free movement of goods.”
Tajikistan, the poorest country in Central Asia, has not officially indicated its desire to join the free trade bloc but has repeatedly said that it was watching developments following Kyrgyzstan’s accession to the bloc in August 2015. Kyrgyzstan has not yet reaped the benefits of its membership as it only last year started recovering from an economic slowdown which hit its main trade partners within the EEU - Russia and Kazakhstan. As Kyrgyzstan's membership was largely treated as part of Russia's political ambition to boost the EEU, its economic development record didn't match that of the existing member states.
Tajikistan may also face opposition from Kazakhstan and Belarus to its membership in the bloc.
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