Interview for Deutsche Welle Documentary

An excerpt from an interview I gave back in 2010 to a DW documentarian on regional trade in Central Asia. It was taken at Dordoi Bazzar outside Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. He liked the background chaos, as is supposedly adds authenticity.

The first response is to a question regarding whether Russia can lead a Customs Union within the WTO (it can), and whether Kyrgyzstan could join that Customs Union without violating WTO rules (without changes to the CU’s tariffs, it can not).

The second response is to a question on the effect of the Customs Union on trade between China and the EU. There should be little, since most of China’s trade with the EU travels by sea. Some expediters, such as DB Schenker, have been trying to establish a road/rail logistics corridor that would be competitive with sea routes for some products. It is possible that new CU bureaucracy or transit trade regulations could curb any headway the private sector can make in this area.

Russia and its leadership have long relied on customs duties as a major indirect revenue stream, and the CU is a natural extension of that regime.

Kyrgyzstan: WTO or Customs Union – Pick Your Poison

With Putin’s recent invitation for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan to join the new Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union, many have wondered whether Kyrgyzstan could join in line with its standing commitments to the World Trade Organization.

One commonly held misbelief is that the WTO and a customs union are mutually exclusive – actually there are several customs unions that function within the WTO (such as the EU). However, WTO rules do not clearly provide for customs unions between WTO members and non-members.


Continue reading Kyrgyzstan: WTO or Customs Union – Pick Your Poison