Armenia will maintain a free trade regime with neighboring Georgia after joining the more protectionist Eurasian Economic Union (EEU), Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharian revealed on Monday.
Kocharian said Yerevan managed to secure this concession during its accession talks with the Russian-led bloc and is three member states.
“We succeeded in making sure that the agreements on customs duties signed by the Republic of Armenia before January 1, 2015 will remain in force,” he said. “In the negotiation process, we did everything to ensure that our accession to the Eurasian Economic Union does not jeopardize our relations with Georgia.”
“The same applies to Iran,” the official added during parliamentary hearings on the terms of Armenia’s membership in the EEU.
The EEU membership, which is due to take effect in January, requires the Armenian government to adopt significantly higher duties that are collected by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan from goods imported from third countries. Many expected that this would lead to the abolition of Georgian-Armenian free trade arrangements, especially given Georgia’s recent entry into a “deep and comprehensive free trade area” with the European Union.
The Armenian and Georgian governments were due to hold this month talks on possible contradictions between their new economic commitments to Moscow and Brussels respectively. “I presume that there will be no insurmountable issues,” the Georgian ambassador in Yerevan, Tengiz Sharmanashvili, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service last month.
The two governments may also need to agree on new customs procedures for the transit through Georgian territory of Armenian goods exported to Russia and the other EEU member states.
The issue was on the agenda of Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Gharibashvili’s visit to Yerevan in August. Gharibashvili and his Armenian counterpart Hovik Abrahamian said that Armenia’s imminent accession to the EEU will not damage bilateral commercial ties.