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EAEU develops international cooperation: Free Trade Agreement with Singapore signed, Interim Agreement leading to the formation of a free trade area with Iran to come into force soon

EAEU develops international cooperation: Free Trade Agreement with Singapore signed, Interim Agreement leading to the formation of a free trade area with Iran to come into force soon


Some important decisions in the spheres of integration, international activities, financial policy, customs regulation, power industry and a number of others were adopted at the meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council (SEEC), which took place on October 1 in Yerevan (Armenia). 

The first agreements from the package of a comprehensive trade deal between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) countries and the Republic of Singapore, including the Free Trade Agreement, were signed within the framework of the SEEC meeting.

The SEEC Members highly appreciated the activities of the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) on developing the Eurasian integration processes.

The meeting was attended by Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Belarus, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Sooronbay Jeenbekov, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, and Tigran Sargsyan, Chairman of the EEC Board. Besides, the meeting was attended by Igor Dodon, President of the Republic of Moldova, as the Head of the Observer State at the EAEU, Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore, and Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the Guests of Honor.

“The meeting agenda includes improving mechanisms for cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) countries, and effective functioning of the integration space”, - said Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, opening the summit.

"We are doubly pleased to hold today's meeting, as it is attended by the leaders of two countries - Iran and Singapore, our Union is developing trade and economic relations with, aimed at establishing a free trade regime. As a result of close and effective cooperation between all branches of our organization, we managed to further expand the geography of the Union cooperation, thanks to which today’s meeting acquires special importance", - Nikol Pashinyan stated.

The Prime Minister of Armenia noted that the EAEU pressing issues included measures to remove barriers to forming common markets as well as the issue of mutual recognition of electronic digital signature for access of suppliers to participate in e-procurement. In addition, he drew attention to the need to create conditions for transiting to national currency settlements between the EAEU countries. This will largely be facilitated by adopting the Concept for creating a common financial market.

"The integration process will be more dynamic if citizens prove that our work results in decisions made on pressing issues that lead to a direct improvement in their living and working conditions. I am sure that consistent work in this direction will not only effectively eliminate obstacles, but also contribute to a more complete integration on the principles of equality, mutual benefit and respect for each other's interests", - Nikol Pashinyan said.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of the Republic of Belarus, thanked the Armenian side and personally Nikol Pashinyan for good arrangement of the summit and warm welcome.

The Head of State positively assessed the development of cooperation between the EAEU and third countries, including the development of the Interim Agreement leading to the formation of a free trade area with Iran, which will enter into force in October, and a package of agreements with Singapore.

Alexander Lukashenko also noted with satisfaction the readiness to conclude a Free Trade Agreement with Serbia and recalled that the Agreement on trade and economic cooperation with China would come into force in October. In June, the EAEU and the PRC agreed to exchange preliminary information on goods and vehicles of international transport moving through their customs in order to speed up the passage of goods across their borders. "The Commission should negotiate a similar agreement with the European Union to make the overland link from China to Europe through our countries the most attractive one", - the Belarusian Head of State considers.

"In order to expand the EAEU international agenda, special attention should be paid to the far arc countries, where our goods and services are still little recognized. We invite the Eurasian Development Bank to join this direction. Our national development banks and other financial institutions should also search for forms of closer cooperation both within the Union and at the external border", - Alexander Lukashenko considers.

"Today, we have approved the Concept for creating the EAEU common financial market, having laid the foundation for ensuring free movement of capital and services", - the Belarusian President said. In this regard, he noted that the arrangement of such a market should be associated with digitalization: this will allow developing advanced financial technologies and make the whole range of such services more accessible.

According to him, much has been done in the EAEU for digital transformation of the economy, creation of ecosystems for such sectors as trade, industrial cooperation, and development of transport corridors, employment and to ensure traceability of goods movement. "This direction is gaining momentum, and it is time to harmonize it and add some relevant provisions to the Treaty on the Union. At the same time, it is required to pay attention to the issues of information security and to develop common standards and formats of interaction", - the Belarusian Head of State stressed.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, stated that "The Union is moving forward, and the idea put forth by the first President of the Republic of Kazakhstan H.E. Nursultan Nazarbayev has proved its relevance and efficiency. Over the years of its functioning, the Eurasian integration association has scaled up its economic interaction".

The EAEU is located at the crossroads of global markets and is an important transport hub connecting East and West. And, according to Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, an advantage should be properly taken of this. "There is a steady growth of transit operations in the direction of China-Europe-China, – the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan noted. - The transcontinental railway route Vietnam-China-Kazakhstan-Europe was launched, which resolves logistic issues on promoting our products to the ASEAN countries' market. This transport corridor will be a good alternative to overseas transportation and will allow delivering goods from Southeast Asia to Europe through the territory of the EAEU States in the shortest possible time".

The transit system being developed in the Union will create conditions for smooth movement of transit through its territory and accelerate customs procedures. "The Commission and our governments should accelerate the development of the EAEU common transport system", - Kassym-Jomart Tokayev emphasized.

He is also convinced that the Union should create attractive conditions for developing knowledge intensive technologies, being the foundation of successful economies, for manufacturing and putting out competitive products. Digitalization of the Union States' economies should become a priority. "In Kazakhstan, we have started to implement the "Digital Kazakhstan" program with an accent on the development of cloud solutions, big data and artificial intelligence", - the Kazakh President reported.

Sooronbay Jeenbekov, President of the Kyrgyz Republic, believes that over the five years of the Eurasian Economic Union’s functioning, it has become a strong and authoritative integration association in the world, new opportunities for economic development and raising the well-being of the EAEU peoples are opened.

"Our governments are taking all steps to remove obstacles still existing in trade in the internal market, – the President of the Kyrgyz Republic stressed. - By eliminating them, we can achieve even better results". In this regard, and in order to resolve a number of other integration issues as soon as possible, he proposed to vest the EEC with additional powers.

Touching upon the Eurasian Economic Union’s activities on the external track, Sooronbay Jeenbekov said that the Union was always open for mutually beneficial partnership, and its Member States' governments were trying their best to consolidate a positive image of the EAEU on the international stage.

Having agreed with the overall positive assessments of the Eurasian Economic Union's work, expressed by colleagues, Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation pointed out that the EAEU was developing steadily. A voluminous common market has been created, which is successfully functioning. Integration processes within the Union have the most favorable impact on the growth of the Member States' economies and contribute to raising the citizens’ living standards.

"The aggregate GDP of the Union countries continues growing, – the Russian Head of State stressed. - Industrial and agricultural production is increasing. At the same time, our association faces new large-scale challenges. Along with that, special attention, in our opinion, should be paid to systematic work to remove barriers to trade in goods and services, and in various market sectors".

The introduction of Union-wide regulation in the financial sector is among the priorities. "At the meeting we approved the Concept for creating a common financial market of the EAEU. This document will become a "road map" for developing and approving universal rules for the provision of banking and insurance services and transactions in securities. The implementation of the measures envisaged by the "road map" will simplify the access of our countries’ citizens to financial instruments and make this market segment unified and transparent", - Vladimir Putin said with confidence.

According to him, the process of improving the Union legislation in the power industry is progressing at a good pace as well. Agreements on the formation of the EAEU single electric power market will come into force in the near future. The common electric power space should be formed simultaneously with the creation of the Union markets for gas, oil and petroleum products in 2025. First of all, it is required to complete the process on unifying the Member States' legislations in the sphere of gas supply and transportation.

Vladimir Putin also believes that cooperation between the Union States in the digital economy should be further increased. In particular, the early launch of a standardized job search system "Work without borders" suits the joint interests. This project will allow the EAEU countries’ citizens to learn about free jobs in all Union States online.

"We attach great importance to quickly implementing the Agreement on the traceability of goods imported into the EAEU customs territory, - Vladimir Putin stated. - According to our today's decision, the Eurasian Economic Commission will be granted relevant additional powers. It is important to ensure transparency of products' distribution in the Union market, so this requires a full-fledged exchange of legally valid electronic shipping documents, and the electronic marking of goods needs to be introduced more intensely. By the way, the pilot project on marking a number of goods has proved effective in fighting counterfeit products, and has increased tax revenues".

Igor Dodon, President of the Republic of Moldova, noted that Moldova's participation in the EAEU was a priority and a good opportunity for developing its economic ties and export markets of the Moldovan goods and services. In general, a positive trend in Moldova's trade with the EAEU countries remains. Last year, the trade turnover increased by 10%, and in January-July this year it rose by another 6%. 

"We intend to cooperate more closely with the Eurasian Economic Commission, - Igor Dodon said. – To implement the agenda of cooperation with the Union on a larger scale and to take advantage of all the opportunities for deepening cooperation provided by the status of an observer country. We also plan to study the possibility of the Republic of Moldova's participation in the Eurasian Development Bank and to resolve the issue of Moldova's permanent representative at the EEC. The presence of Moldova’s permanent representative will allow maintaining close contacts with the Commission, promptly receiving information related to the development of trade and economic cooperation, customs, technical, sanitary and other regulations".

Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore, thanked Nikol Pashinyan for the warm welcome and stated that the EAEU was a large market at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, it had a huge potential for economic growth, especially in the logistics and digital spheres. "These are all spheres of Singapore's interest, and cooperation will become a great opportunity for us to jointly develop our economies", - he declared.

In turn, Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, noted that the world system was based on multilateralization and cooperation between all members of the international community. All countries must oppose unilateralism and, in accordance with their international obligations and responsibilities, maintain peace, security, stability and international order.

"Signing of the Trade and Economic Agreement between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the EAEU expresses a comprehensive political vision of Iran, combined with a strong political will to promote the development of multilateral and regional trade and economic relations. The implementation of the Agreement is seen as a step towards strengthening multilateral trade structures”, - Hassan Rouhani emphasized.

Decisions have been adopted on almost all issues on the agenda. The SEEC Members have approved the Concept for creating a common financial market of the Eurasian Economic Union and discussed requirements for distributing the amounts of import customs duties between the budgets of the Eurasian Economic Union Member States. The SEEC Members have approved main directions of the Eurasian Economic Union’s international activities for 2020, the draft Disposition “On harmonizing the legislation of the EAEU Member States in the sphere of gas transportation and supply between the Member States".​