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China proposes to build "steel caravan of Eurasian continent"

China proposes to build "steel caravan of Eurasian continent"

Attendees of the special panel "Towards Greater Eurasia through coupling the States, Business and People" held by the Eurasian Development Bank (EDB) jointly with the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) within the First Eurasian Congress, proposed to create a "steel caravan of the Eurasian continent" and the Association of the Greater Eurasia Business. The discussion was moderated by Andrey Slepnev, Member of the Board – ECC Minister in charge of Trade.


Yu Jianhua, Deputy Minister of Commerce of the PRC, has featured hard times of the pandemic. Along with that, China and the EAEU countries mutually supply medical products, provide a supply chain and implement an Agreement on Cooperation. According to the new 14th Five-Year Plan, China is ready to start a new stage of building an open economy from next year. 


The PRC representative has disclosed several initiatives for cooperation with the EAEU. Then, it is proposed to launch a technical and economic justification for the Agreement on Free Trade Area between the EAEU countries and China. This format is required to develop economies of all parties, liberalize and strengthen international trade and investment. It is also important to ensure the continuity of economic activities, deepen bilateral dialogue and strengthen the alignment of standards. For this purpose, it is required to use the Joint Commission’s venue for implementing the Agreement between the EAEU and China, introduce measures to simplify international trade procedures, develop transboundary e-commerce and ensure continuity of supplies. 


Yu Jianhua has also announced the need to raise the level of interrelations. It would be important to promote the construction of "green" corridors for cargo, advance efficiency of customs clearance at border ports, jointly build logistics and storage centers, "steel caravan of the Eurasian continent" and activate the construction of economic corridors, such as the New Eurasian Bridge.


Alexander Shokhin, RUIE President, has noted that in times of crisis the business community is particularly interested in new growth drivers and reducing barriers. The pandemic crisis phenomena have only increased this need. And the role of regional agreements has grown significantly: members of such associations have been much less affected by the pandemic. From this perspective, the Greater Eurasia project, which could become a single seamless space, should be considered. But specific projects are required to implement the initiative and engage business. The Greater Eurasia Association and a relevant digital platform could be created to exchange ideas and interact with the business community. Then the Big Eurasian partnership will not only be a brand. Real content with practical business interests will appear. 


Vladimir Chizhov, Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the EU, has noted that very soon we can expect a new alignment of figures among world players. This is a natural process and evolution of the Greater Eurasia into one of the poles is quite natural as well. Along with that, the objectives of such a partnership include forming preferential trade regimes, transiting to a new system of currency and financial relations and, as a result, ensuring long-term prosperity. In this regard, introducing unilateral protectionist measures and creating barriers are highly negative. 


As noted by Antonio Fallico, it would be a mistake to close from the inside of economic macro-regions, looking at others as vital competitors. Such a choice with trade and tariff wars, sanctions and other methods of unfair and non-market competition will not ensure the recovery of the entire economic world system from the recession and will not lead to sustainable development. "The success of some will lead to the failure of others, forming the basis for new conflicts," he stressed. According to Antonio Fallico, another way is more promising - to find areas of common interest and cooperation between macroregions to better overcome our common enemy – the sanitary and economic pandemic. "The European Union, the EAEU and the free trade area of East Asia should unite their efforts," the Professor is confident.


D. B. Venkatesh Varma, Ambassador of India to Russia, considers that the Greater Eurasia concept is far from new and, if we go back centuries, it is absolutely natural ties and corridors that have been formed for thousands of years. This is precisely why India has always supported the way to integration and the Eurasian partnership, this is an excellent venue for great achievements with enormous potential. Then, in his opinion, "the Agreement between India and the EAEU countries will increase turnover to 15 bln dollars and this is only the start. That's all part of one big picture. We see possibilities everywhere and try to be members of different organizations"

In turn, Kirill Barsky, Ambassador-at-large of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, has noted the relevance of principle of the Eurasian solidarity aimed at ensuring social-political stability. The Eurasian partnership initiative can provide a powerful impetus for developing regional cooperation. At least for now creating the Greater Eurasia is, of course, only an idea, Barsky noted. But its implementation is a likelihood; it can give a certain image of the future and create a positive agenda everyone is in need of now. 


Kairat Kelimbetov, Chairman of the Agency for Strategic Planning and Reforms of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Manager of the Astana International Financial Center, believes that Central Asia today is an infrastructure in many respects. This includes a connectivity platform: many of the countries are land-locked, but at the same time as per the BCG calculations, this is a very large market with a capacity of over 100 mln people. Therefore, the connectivity and various platform decisions are of great significance. 


Summing up the discussion, Andrey Slepnev, EEC Minister in charge of Trade, has noted that not so many tools and drivers of development survive in the world today: the tools of stimulus spending have been almost exhausted, further use of monetary methods looks almost unrealistic and there are also few reasons to foresee an explosive growth of trade within the existing circumstances. "Today's discussion shows that this global driver is highly visible – this is our large continent and the potential that can be unleashed through connectivity, Trans-Eurasian corridors, projects and a common development agenda in the field of digitalization and climate issues,” the Minister stated.​