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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Minister Endorses Single Currency To Ease Payments by CIS Countries

COMBINED REPORTS


Russia's minister for relations with the former Soviet Union called Tuesday for a single currency to improve the payments system in the Commonwealth of Independent States, Interfax said.


"Returning to a single currency would make it possible to make payments between CIS countries more effective," Interfax quoted Minister for CIS Affairs Valery Serov as saying.


The single ruble zone broke up in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, and now all CIS states have their own currencies.


But there have been frequent proposals for payment unions and currency unions since then.


Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan are due to hold a summit Friday on integration, and Serov told a news conference the four states would sign agreements on closer cooperation in structural and financial policy.


Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan have already formed a customs union, which Kyrgyzstan is likely to join.


Friday's meeting has been overshadowed by a proposal from the president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, to create a deeper union between his country and Russia.


But President Boris Yeltsin said Monday there was no question "of forming a single state with Belarus."


The disintegration of the ruble zone led to a sharp decline in trade between former Soviet republics, which aggravated the recession they are undergoing as they move toward market economies.


Interfax reported Foreign Trade Ministry figures showing Russian exports to CIS states in January were $1.2 billion, 16.5 percent less than a year earlier. But total trade volume among all CIS states in January was $2.6 billion, a 50 percent increase compared with a year earlier, it said.


Serov also reiterated the government's concern about debt owed Russia by other former Soviet republics, which he put at $9 billion.


Other CIS states are in arrears for government loan repayment, fuel payments and obligations of private companies, he said. ()