_ Viktor Shakhmatov, Head of the Analytical Support Section at the EEC Protocol and Organizational Support Department, Member of the Marco Polo Young Leaders Initiative. Moscow, 14 March 2019.
The Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) is working to ensure the integration of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) into the global economic architecture through the development of open, mutually beneficial and transparent relations with all partners in the East and the West, which makes the EAEU a core element of the Greater Eurasian Partnership.
The EAEU is a young and rapidly developing integration association. In the five years since the signing of the treaty to establish the EAEU, on May 29, 2014, the organization has developed a number of leading frameworks for its international cooperation:
• memorandums of understanding and cooperation;
• non-preferential trade and economic agreements;
• free trade zone agreements;
• status of the observer state at the EAEU.
The basic format is the memorandum of understanding and cooperation between the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) and the governments of third countries, international organizations and integration associations.
The EAEU and ASEAN have big plans for deepening cooperation. In February 2019, the EEC delegation during the visit to the Republic of Indonesia discussed the EEC-ASEAN Cooperation Programme for 2019-2020, which is being formed in accordance with the Memorandum.
ASEAN is a natural key partner for the EAEU. Both organizations have similar integration agendas and are working to strengthen integration cooperation between their member states. The multifaceted EAEU-ASEAN cooperation is designed to promote the trade, economic and investment partnership between their economies, which increased mutual trade by 11.5% or $2.3 billion in 2018.
The format of memorandums serves as the basis of relations between the EAEU and Singapore (signed on March 21, 2016), Cambodia (May 17, 2016) and Thailand (November 19, 2018).
Vietnam is the leading ASEAN trade partner of the EAEU. It accounts for about 30% of the EAEU’s total trade with ASEAN.
Vietnam was the first country to sign a Free Trade Agreement with the EAEU on May 29, 2015. This international agreement, signed by the budding organization, has benefited both sides and offered attractive conditions to the EAEU importers and producers who use Vietnamese components. The agreement also created conditions for increasing and diversifying trade in the free trade zone. The Free Trade Agreement is promoting trust between the signatories and provides the foundation for mutually beneficial cooperation with all Southeast Asian countries.
In 2017 (full-fledged work of the FTA) the commodity turnover growth amounted 36.7%, while exports and imports grew by 39.6% and 35%, respectively. In 2018, the commodity turnover growth amounted 12.8% or $0.8 billion (from 5.9 to 6.7 billion dollars).
On May 17, 2018, the EAEU and Iran signed a Temporary Agreement Leading to the Establishment of a Free Trade Zone, which covers approximately 50% of products. When signing the agreement, the parties expressed readiness to deepen their cooperation. They intend to sign a permanent free trade agreement, which will cover almost the entire range of products and will increase mutual trade by 150% within three years.
The EEC has the mandate for talks on free trade zones with Israel, Serbia, Egypt, India and Singapore.
The non-preferential agreement on trade and economic cooperation signed between the EAEU and China on the sidelines of the Astana Economic Forum is a unique format for the EAEU and a major step towards the alignment of the EAEU and China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The agreement stipulates new forms of industry-based cooperation, including joint investment projects in transportation, energy and agriculture.
The parties have started working to implement the idea of alignment by establishing a working group on major integration projects in the fields of transportation and infrastructure. The group comprises representatives from the EAEU member states, the Eurasian Development Bank and the EEC.
The EAEU is deepening cooperation with another major trade partner, the European Union, which is the main trade partner of the EAEU member states. At the official level, the Eurasian Economic Commission has developed institutional cooperation with Greece, a member state of the EU. The parties signed a Joint Declaration on Cooperation in 2017.
Another major achievement was the signing of memorandums of understanding between the EEC, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) and the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardization (CENELEC) in 2016.
A key step to build a dialogue with the EU was the speech of the Chairman of the EEC Board Tigran Sargsyan on October 19, 2017, at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council, following which a representative of the European Commission declared his readiness to cooperate in such areas as technical regulation and mutual trade. Later, during the working meeting of Tigran Sargsyan with OSCE Secretary General Thomas Greminger, the parties agreed to prepare a joint plan of action. The next meeting with the OSCE Secretary General was held on November 2, 2018 at the EEC headquarters in Moscow. During the meeting, it was decided to deepen cooperation in the field of digital transformation and transport corridors.
The EAEU and the EU are not rivals; cooperation between them is benefiting both sides. The EAEU and EU businesses are interested in deepening this cooperation. Many European companies are working successfully in the EAEU, using the advantages of the common Eurasian market.
The EEC’s foreign trade activities are promoting the integration of the EAEU into the global economic architecture through the development of open, mutually beneficial and transparent relations with all partners in the East and the West, which makes the EAEU a core element of the Greater Eurasian Partnership.