What caused the new customs dispute between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, subjective factors or objective reasons? DW spoke with the experts.
By mid-April 2019 it is possible to note the fact that Kazakhstan did not make Kyrgyzstan a “custom block” on the model two years ago. The conflict between Astana and Bishkek began in mid-March, just in those days, when Nursultan Nazarbayev left the presidency, but before he could be deja vu 2017, when the two capitals competed in mutual recriminations, went “in there” – the Kazakh side has reduced the zeal in Kyrgyz inspections of trucks with goods crossing border of the Republic.
Sparring presidents – cause inspections at customs?
How strong the personal factor in relations between the two neighbors? “That sparring 2017, when Atambayev, Nazarbayev called “old dictator” – that was the reason for the Kazakh side, in the struggle for control of Chinese trade flows go to active offensive actions,” – says the confrontation of presidents of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan of Institute of the CIS Andrey Grozin.
“Conflict of 2017 is very quickly resorbed after to power in Kyrgyzstan is Almazbek Atambayev came Sooronbai Jeenbekov. But this does not mean that it was just in Atambaeva. New Kyrgyz President then demonstrated Astana that he will make efforts to restore control over Chinese products. And something Kyrgyzstan is really trying to do to restore order at the customs, but sporadically. Maybe now Bishkek managed to convince the authorities of Kazakhstan in readiness to engage in control,” says Grozin.
Fighting for what Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan?
“In fact, two sides of the struggle, the territories will go to the Chinese transit. And the Kazakh side is there to act in accordance with the kind of global and long-approved plan, but internal aspects of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan on the plan of little effect…. Any one in Central Asia will go the main transit not resolved, such disputes will regularly occur. Regardless of the fact, includes countries in the EEU (Eurasian economic Union. – Ed.) or not” – says a Russian expert in an interview with DW.
“It’s not a question of hostility between Atambayev and Nazarbayev”, – agrees the employee of the Berlin Center for East European and international studies (ZOiS) asment Beate (Beate Eschment). – “Kyrgyzstan objectively experiencing significant problems in the implementation of different rules of the EEU. And I can imagine that during the transportation of goods from China allowed certain violations. On the other hand, problems have arisen not only on the border of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, but at the same time and almost on the border of Kazakhstan with Uzbekistan. Can I assume that the share of Kazakh customs was caused by some kind of increased the necessity to report the success. And with the Eurasian economic Union is not connected because of Uzbekistan in this organization is not,” gives his interpretation of the situation asment.
The President spoke out against Bishkek at the request of Moscow?
Officials and politicians in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan in different ways explain the current spring customs conflict. So, the Ministry of Finance of Kazakhstan, according to media reports, referred to the reluctance of the Kyrgyz haulers to pass customs. And in Bishkek, in addition to the allegations of gross violation of Kazakhstan, the norms of the EAEU and threats to suspend the work of the Kyrgyz representation in the organization, it was suggested that enhanced control inspired Moscow – when this link was made on the complaint of the head of the Central Bank of Russia Elvira Nabiullina, President Vladimir Putin at the abundance of “gray” imports from China and Vietnam.
However, Beate asment looking at this explanation with skepticism. “This post owes its appearance Kyrgyz Deputy who saw a connection between the action of the customs of Kazakhstan and discuss in Moscow problems with “gray” in transit from China and Vietnam. Kyrgyzstan is thus known for his passion for the rapid spread of rumors. I have not heard that between Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam was a noticeable flow of goods,” argues it is his skepticism.
The “grey” business and the Chinese-Russian border
First, the flow of goods from China to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan focused on Russia, and “a big part of it, which is specified as the Kyrgyz-Chinese and Kazakh-Chinese trade is, in fact, Russian-Chinese trade turnover,” says Andrei Grozin. – “From one third to two thirds of this stream goes to Russia – among economists here estimates vary widely. In addition, there are issues related to smuggling. Different structure – both in Russia and internationally conducted research, which showed that the statistics of exports from China and there is Chinese imports there is driven, on the one hand, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and, on the other hand, by China, at odds at times. The difference is probably the same “grey” import,” continues the source DW.
“Russia has in view such a large flow of contraband had had enough, and was followed by a series of decisions in Moscow, including President Putin’s instructions to the government and the FSB to deal with the problem. But, although some requests from Moscow as a factor cannot be excluded, I do not think that it is for the March-April closure of the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border,” – says the Russian expert. Russia, to arrange a strict customs regime on the border with Kazakhstan is not easy. “From the Russian side, something in this direction is done, but the seven thousand kilometers of this border tooling so that they were not contraband flows, hard and long even with a strong desire and large investments,” he says.
If this continues Grozin, to carry the goods from China directly through the Russian-Chinese border is not always beneficial. “The main consumer of Chinese products in Russia is located in its European part. There are cheaper to drive from Dordoy Kyrgyz or Kazakh Khorgos, especially if the goods are contraband or not quite clean and certified. But from the Northern and Central part of China, it might be easier to carry through Primorye. This is largely a question of development of the Russian transport network,” he says.
But back on the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border. According to Beate asment, the probability of recurrence of such customs blockades Kyrgyzstan from Kazakhstan big. As for opportunities, the EEU to regulate such issues, as the expert says, “the Eurasian economic Union in Kazakhstan, according to my experience, when making decisions, the first violin is not playing.”
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