_ Vladimir Putin. President of the Russian Federation. Moscow, 18 January 2018.
On January 1, 2018, the Russian Federation assumed the chairmanship of the EAEU bodies – the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council and the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission.
We regard the EAEU as a major regional integration organisation that is promoting the economic alignment of the five member states and their sustainable development towards the increased prosperity of our peoples.
Over the three years since its establishment, the EAEU has proved its value and effectiveness. The member states’ domestic sales and foreign trade are increasing. Our export companies are strengthening their positions on the markets of third countries. The structure of our exports is improving, and the share of high value added goods among our exports is increasing. New joint ventures have been established, promising investment projects launched and industrial cooperation developed. The range of goods produced in the EAEU member states is increasing, which means that our people have broader access to inexpensive high-quality goods.
I am convinced that we can not only maintain this growth rate but also ensure the continued development of the EAEU. For this, we need to take a broader look at our integration project, formulate and implement ambitious integration goals and map out new cooperation vistas. We must work to ensure that all people in our countries understand and support the EAEU goals and contribute to their achievement by directly connecting their wellbeing and future with the Eurasian Economic Union.
Therefore, in addition to consistent implementation of earlier agreements and decisions within the EAEU, during its Presidency, Russia plans to focus on the initiatives and projects pursued by business, expert and research communities, cultural workers and young people.
Maintaining continuity, it is important to continue working jointly with our integration partners to remove the remaining barriers, limitations and restrictions in the way of building a common economic space. Our task is to intensify our efforts towards creating single markets for goods and services, and providing conditions for free capital and workforce flow. We must seek a concerted policy in industrial production and agriculture; develop import substitution, cooperate in manufacturing and technologies; initiate large transport infrastructure modernisation projects; develop efficient logistics schemes and improve the union’s transit potential.
We believe it is necessary to accelerate the Union’s common digital agenda, coordinate actions for advancing the internet economy, developing common online trade rules of conduct, information exchange and security standards. It is also necessary to introduce high technologies into public administration, industrial production, customs regulation and other areas. Also required are common competitive, innovative and knowledge-intensive projects.
We should more actively involve businesses – large companies and, more importantly, small and medium-sized enterprises – in the integration initiatives. We need to extensively employ the resources of the Eurasian Development Bank and the Eurasian Fund for Stabilisation and Development for funding inter-state projects that have a powerful effect on integration.
It is important to continue merging and harmonising the monetary and financial policies of EAEU member-states and to establish a common financial market in the future. It is important that special attention should be paid to increasing the level of trust in the banking system and protecting the interests of individuals as well as states from actions linked with the legalisation and laundering of criminal profits and the financing of terrorism.
The five countries have good opportunities for expanding mutual ties in such fields as nuclear power industry, renewable energy sources, environmental protection, healthcare, space exploration, tourism, as well as sports. Although EAEU countries do not cooperate very much at all in these areas, the business community and the public remain highly interested in them. Therefore, it appears that we ought to start actively addressing these matters in a multilateral union format.
We intend to further expand inter-regional and cross-border cooperation between the EAEU member-states. Thereby we would give an additional impetus to the integration processes and we would ensure closer cooperation at the level of the member-countries’ regions still further.
We suggest paying greater attention to the sociocultural sphere. I would like to note the importance of assisting the efforts of our countries’ universities to streamline mutual ties, to implement joint academic and research programmes, to expand student exchanges, as well as to boost academic mobility.
Efforts to maintain close and mutually beneficial cooperation with other states and integration associations have key significance for ensuring the development of the Eurasian Economic Union. A free trade zone with Vietnam has been functioning successfully since 2016. We expect positive results from the current talks to establish free trade zones with Egypt, Israel, India, Iran, Serbia and Singapore. We can see substantial prospects in signing a trade and economic cooperation agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and the People’s Republic of China. I am confident that the EAEU and China’s Belt and Road initiative can effectively supplement each other.
We deem it appropriate to analyse the possibility of a closer alignment of the EAEU and the CIS, some member states of which could receive observer status at the EAEU.
We are resolved to carry on relations between the EAEU and the UN and its specialised bodies. We believe that the EAEU should continue to contribute to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and its other forward-looking global initiatives.
We must work together to strengthen the EAEU’s positions at the WTO and to ensure its full-scale involvement in other international organisations, including the World Customs Organisation.
I would like to highlight the importance of adjusting the EAEU and ensuring the comprehensive and unconditional implementation of the standards and obligations by the member states, even if this calls for amending their national legislations. Only standardisation of our legal frameworks can ensure the proper and efficient operation of our common markets, as well as the free movement of goods, services, capital and workforce.
Russia stands for the consistent strengthening of the EAEU’s supranational potential, in particular, expanding the competencies of the Eurasian Economic Commission. By doing this we will encourage a closer alignment of the EAEU economies and the maximum application of their capabilities for addressing common integration tasks.
I hope for cooperation with the EAEU member states and their contribution to the implementation of the priorities of Russia’s EAEU chairmanship in 2018. I am convinced that the furthering of Eurasian integration will help us enhance the wellbeing of our people and facilitate the maintenance of the cultural, historical and social unity of the EAEU nations.