The country signed up to the trade bloc with Russia and Belarus on July 5, 2010. At the time the spin was that the removal of customs checks and tariffs will boost mutual trade and help economies thrive. Higher import tariffs adjusted to the level of Russia’s were also supposed to shelter producers from cheap Chinese (and other) imports.
But three years on, the results are very different. In Kazakhstan, the only industries that got a boost are those producing raw materials that mostly go to Russia. Anything with added value gets non-tariff barriers, like Russia’s notorious health and technical standards. The middle class got hit particularly hard. Consumers also suffered as prices for food and basic goods started to inch up.
Trade overall dipped this year in the whole of Customs Union. In five months of this year, the drop was 9.9 percent over the same period of last year, and Kazakhstan was hit the most, losing 15.8 percent of trade compared to last year.