Eurasian integration processes to be open for Western partners


MOSCOW, May 31. /TASS/. Moscow will continue efforts to develop integration processes in Bigger Eurasia, projects on this space will be open for Western partners, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov said on Tuesday.

“Now we heave a triunique structure of the development of integration processes in Bigger Eurasia: talks between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and China, the program of coupling the EAEU and the Silk Road, and the implementation of a wide partnership initiative – EAEU-SCO-ASEAN,” he said at an international conference dedicated to Russia-China relations  “I am confident these three projects will yield a powerful synergic effect and will lay a basis for the formation of a common economic space involving Russia, China and our partners from the EAEU and the SCO, including the powerful economies of India and Iran,” he noted. According to Morgulov, it is important that this structure will be open for Western partner. “We will continue to promote this long-term and promising work,” he added. The Eurasian space is set to see an all-encompassing trade and economic partnership emerging, similar to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said Tuesday. “The whole Eurasian space is set to see an all-encompassing trade and economic partnership emerging. This partnership, which is primarily emerging between the EAEU and China, will be open for other countries to join,” he said, adding that respective “talks will be launched without delay.”

The EAEU-China cooperation

China and the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) may sign joint documents on trade and economic partnership within two years, Shuvalov said. “It would be great to sign particular documents within two years,” he said, adding that “this is a challenging negotiation process.” According to Shuvalov, China is interested in setting up a free trade zone with the EAEU. “However, we initially said that the EurAsEC (Eurasian Economic Community) and China would create such a trade and economic partnership. This is more about the rules of the game regarding development of free flows of goods and services as well as protection of investment in this huge area. We also discussed with China the possibility of creating a free trade zone between SCO countries and China, which surely implies reduced tariffs or even slashed to zero common customs tariffs on Chinese goods supplied to Russia and other countries,” the first deputy PM said. According to Shuvalov, a decision has been made to balance flows of commodities for all producers to be on an equal footing.

The leaders of the EAEU member-states have instructed the group of negotiations regarding the need to explore non-tariff barriers in the first place and propose ways to remove them, Shuvalov said. “We are also aware of the fact that the People’s Republic of China is taking interest in reduced tariffs for promoting goods made in China. However, we’ll deal with the issue in such a way as to ensure mutual interest,” he added. Iran may join the trade and economic partnership between China and the EAEU, Shuvalov added. “As I have understood from the discussion of this issue by the [EAEU] leaders, Iran is one of potential participants in this partnership,” Shuvalov said. Partnership with China is of crucial importance for the EAEU, Chairman of Eurasian Economic Commission’s Board Tigran Sarkisyan told a briefing on Tuesday. “There are many issues on the agenda, which concern relations with third countries and integration associations,” he said. “EEC will start the negotiation process within the framework of the mandate that is given to us, and we will build the relations first and foremost in the interests of economic entities of our countries,” Sarkisyan said. According to him, regular consultations will be held in this area. “For our part we will take necessary steps to make the Chinese market open up for our enterprises,” Sarkisyan said.

The EAEU-EU Ties

Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomed Kazakhstan’s initiative to organize a conference aimed at establishing cooperation between the EAEU and the European Union (EU). “We welcome the initiative of our Kazakhstan’s partners on holding an international conference aimed at establishing cooperation between the EAEU and the EU,” he said, adding that “it is necessary that the Eurasian Economic Commission joins” the work on thrashing it out.

The EAEU-Serbia trade regime

The member-states of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) will hold talks with Serbia on unification of trade regime, Chairman of Eurasian Economic Commission’s Board Tigran Sarkisyan told a briefing on Tuesday. “Today the decision has been made to start talks with the republic of Serbia on unification of the trade regime between the Eurasian Economic Union, its member-states and that country.” In particular, the presidents of the EAEU countries have decided to start talks with Serbia on creation of a free economic trade zone between the republic and the Union, EAEC Trade Minister Veronika Nikishina said “Following the results of our talks we will sign a new agreement about a free trade zone: between EAEC, its members-states and the republic of Serbia,” she said. Currently, three countries of EAEC – Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus – have free trade zone agreements with Serbia. At the same time there are deviations between some provisions of those agreements.

Two other members of EAEC – Armenia and Kyrgyzstan – have the most favored nation treatment regime with Serbia. The minister is confident that now it is the right moment to discuss what other goods the countries of the EAEC could supply to Serbia and to ask for most favored nation treatment for them. “Considering that the most favored nation treatment has already been established with these counties these talks could be very intensive. But so far we cannot say exactly when the new agreement may be signed and come into effect,” she said. EAEU oil and gas markets The concepts of creating common oil and gas markets within the EAEU by 2025 have been generally approved, Russia’s First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said. “Today president reported on the concepts of creating the markets of gas, oil and petroleum products,” he said, adding that “those concepts were approved.” According to Shuvalov, the remaining disagreements regarding those documents were removed after May 20 in Yerevan while the next stage is to prepare intergovernmental agreements for setting up a common hydrocarbons market across the Eurasian Economic Union by 2025. “We’ve in principle agreed upon the issue today,” he added. The combined effect of the creation of a common gas market for the EAEU by 2025 will top $1 bln per annum and $8 bln for the oil market Putin said at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. “Today we are one step closer to the creation of a common hydrocarbons market by 2025, which has been subject of much discussion and argument at some point,” Putin said. “Respective documents have been prepared, which stipulate equal competitive positions across the Union, in order to reach the combined effect of over $1 bln per annum in the gas sector and up to $8 bln per annum in the oil sector,” he added. Also, the EAEU member-states have agreed to create a common electricity market by 2019, the president said, adding that the respective concept has been approved and the program is being prepared. According to experts’ estimates, after the task is implemented the EAEU states’ GDP will additionally boost by $7 bln, Putin added.

Putin has invited the member-states of the EAEU to participate in Russia’s import replacement program. “The Union’s states joining the import replacement program implemented by Russia is promising,” Putin said. “We invite all our partners to have joint production of equipment and components in more than 25 areas.” The president said this particularly concerns machine building, consumer goods manufacturing, electronics manufacturing industry and agriculture. Russia announced plans to implement its import replacement program amid Western sanctions.

The EAEU-Vietnam Agreement.

The agreement on a free trade zone between the EAEU and Vietnam will come into operation starting from the end of this summer, Shuvalov said. “Today we approved the agreement that will foster our free trade agreement with Vietnam. The ratification procedures are almost finalized and hopefully the agreement will come into force starting from the end of summer,” Shuvalov said. As it was reported earlier the agreement on setting up a free trade zone between the EAEU and Vietnam was signed by heads of governments of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Vietnam within the meeting of the Eurasian intergovernmental council on May 29, 2015. This is the first document of its kind for the EAEU signed with an external partner. The agreement stipulates mutual commitments of the sides involved on easing access to the markets for commodities. The document particularly outlines the conditions of tariff liberalization of trade between the EAEU member-states and Vietnam via reducing or slashing to zero the rates of import duties for a large number of goods.

“We consider the issue extremely important as international opportunities are the main way for Russian entrepreneurs and EAEU businessmen on the whole to shift from economic recession to upswing,” he said. Shuvalov added that the agenda on potential agreements with SCO countries will be further developed, and said that the issue of making an agreement on free trade zone with Serbia had been touched upon at Tuesday’s meeting. “The Russian president informed the colleagues about the requested items announced within the Russia-ASEAN summit, including the one from Singapore’s prime minister on the possibility of making a free trade zone agreement,” the first deputy PM said.