Accession to the Customs Union: Shaping the strategy for Azerbaijan

Accession to the Customs Union: Shaping the strategy for Azerbaijan

This paper analyses the implications of the potential accession of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia, combining qualitative and quantitative approaches. The qualitative approach employs stakeholder and sectorial analysis, while quantitative methodologies include Hedonic Estimation and Linear Regression Models. The stakeholder analysis discusses the implications of accession for different interested parties, namely businesses, citizens and international partners of Azerbaijan. The sectorial analysis assesses the varied probable impact of accession on different economic sectors. The quantitative methods are designed to answer the question following question: How much would the Azerbaijani economy benefit if it had joined the Customs Union when it was established in 2010?

Although CESD finds a number of quantitative benefits to accession (for example, an additional two to five percent growth in GDP), qualitative analysis reveals disadvantages that were not captured by quantitative methodologies and helps provide a more comprehensive picture that disfavors accession, namely the long-term disadvantage of ceding independence vis-à-vis Azerbaijan’s energy policy. Accordingly, the Center for Economic and Social Development strongly recommends against accession. However, considering economic, social and political pressures, Azerbaijan may be persuaded to accede. In this scenario, CESD would recommend learning from the experience of the UK while acceding to the European Union and attaining several key exemptions from the rules and regulations of the Customs Union.

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