Kazakhstan Begins Chairmanship Of The Commonwealth Of Independent States

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Intra-Regional Trade Increased 28.3% In 2021 With Free Trade Services Agreement in the Pipeline for 2022

Kazakhstan is the new Chair of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) from January 1 2022, having taken over this year from Belarus, which led the organization during its 30th anniversary. The CIS has established itself as a full-fledged political organization, and Minsk was able to keep it running as a platform of opportunities despite the pandemic and the political ups and downs separate member countries faced. Kazakhstan’s capital city, Nur-Sultan is set to continue the steady development of the CIS as a regional group.

The CIS includes Azerbaijan, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The Ukraine was a member until 2018 but resigned in 2018 to pursue relationships with the European Union and NATO, which is to some extent the source of problems in Ukraine today as it remains without a free trade bloc. Within the CIS is the Commonwealth of Independent States Free Trade Area (CISFTA), a free-trade area between Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and Tajikistan. Five CISFTA participants, except Uzbekistan, Moldova, and Tajikistan, are also members of the Eurasian Economic Union, comprising a single economic market.

Last year, the CIS managed to enhance their multi-lateral trade and economic performance. In January-August 2021, the value (in current prices) of mutual trade of the CIS countries increased by 28.3% from a year earlier. Exports increased by 28.6%, while imports rose by 28%. All CIS countries ended the first nine months of the year with an increase in their gross domestic product values without a single exception. The total GDP of the CIS expanded by 4.4% in 2021, according to the CIS Executive Committee.

2022 CIS Agenda

Maulen Ashimbayev, a speaker of Kazakhstan’s Senate said that one of the priorities of the country’s chairmanship would be promoting parliamentary diplomacy. That’s according to the concept of chairmanship that, he said, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev of Kazakhstan has already approved and that would be presented this month.

Plans are in store to put together an agreement on free trade in services in the CIS by May 2022 to be signed by the heads of member-state governments. According to Chairman of the Executive Committee and CIS Executive Secretary Sergey Lebedev, in addition to member states, the agreement will be open to other countries to join on certain conditions.

Russia’s President Putin said that CIS countries would jointly develop a biological risk monitoring system and exchange information on the fight against epidemics. According to his Kazakh counterpart, the country is committed to intensive work on regional consolidation. In order to bring the peoples of the member countries closer together, Kazakhstan has declared 2023 to be the year the Year of Folk Art and Cultural Heritage of the CIS. The plan for its implementation includes about 100 events aimed at preserving the historical ties and strengthening interaction in the fields of culture, tourism, and sports, Tokayev said.

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