Interaction on principles of equality of all countries: Meeting of Eurasian Intergovernmental Council held in Minsk

A regular meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council took place in Minsk. The event was attended by the Heads of Government of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan, Belarus — Roman Golovchenko, Kyrgyzstan — Akylbek Zhaparov, Russia — Mikhail Mishustin, Chair of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Mikhail Myasnikovich and others.

Issues related to the development of an integrated information system of the Eurasian Economic Union, labeling of goods, regulation of the alcohol market and taxation in e-commerce were discussed in narrow and extended formats. In addition, the meeting participants discussed the development of the transport infrastructure of the EAEU in the East-West and North-South directions, including as part of the interface with the Chinese One Belt, One Road initiative, cooperation in high-tech industries, and a joint action program in the field of consumer protection, the state of competition in cross-border markets and a number of other issues.

There is an urgent need to create new trade routes — Smailov

The Prime Minister of Kazakhstan Alikhan Smailov, at a meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council in an expanded composition noted that today all countries have become witnesses and participants in the global transformation of world trade.

“The growing tension, the pandemic crisis, the disruption of global trade and logistics ties, hyperinflation have had a negative impact on both producers of goods and service providers in our countries,” Smailov said.

According to the Head of the Government of Kazakhstan, what is distinctive is that the turmoil affected representatives of all forms of business: small, medium and large. It is in the current critical conditions that the role of regional associations becomes leading in solving the problems that have arisen.

Thus, last year was a record year in terms of mutual trade. The trade turnover of the EAEU countries increased by 31%.

“We very much hope to maintain the set pace, but the statistics show a slowdown in trade. Over the 4 months of this year, mutual trade between Kazakhstan and the EAEU grew by only 5%, amounting to $7.7 billion. Certain issues on the agenda of the current meeting of the Intergovernmental Council are of particular relevance. For example, the issues of simplifying the movement of a certain category of goods to the EAEU market. I express hope for the soonest cancellation of their paper support,” said Smailov.

The instruction adopted today to develop the Eurasian transport corridors and routes in the East-West and North-South directions is very timely. Simplification and reduction of the terms of transportation of goods from Europe and Asia to and through the territory of the EAEU countries through the development and creation of new transport arteries is of particular importance today.

“We are in a new reality, under which it is necessary to transform the activities of the Eurasian Economic Union,” Smailov emphasized.

The following facts should act as priorities for such a transformation, in the opinion of the head of the Government.

First. Kazakhstan has a huge potential for business development, the use of which is largely hampered by barriers, which are mentioned from time to time, but they really do not become less. In some ways, we are hindered by the imperfection of the contractual framework, and in some ways by country protectionism. The success of an economic association depends on the actions of all its members. As you know, some barriers give rise to others.

“It is necessary to unite efforts in ensuring a free market, which is a vital condition for the growth of the economy of our states and the well-being of our citizens. In turn, the work of the Commission should be focused on ensuring the four freedoms guaranteed by the Treaty,” Smailov said.

Second. The current interruptions in the supply of components, raw materials, and finished products have exposed the problem of the insufficient level of industrial cooperation between our industries. Real cooperation projects are needed in almost all industries, from engineering and high-tech to the production of food and medical products.

The Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan proposed to focus on specific cooperation projects, and in general, on strengthening cooperation ties in order to create high-tech, innovative and competitive products.

The Commission needs to take a proactive stance in the search for and development of such projects with the parties.

Third. The Head of Government noted a significant change in world trade. There was an urgent need to create new trade routes.

“We are ready to work together on alternative routes. However, ensuring unimpeded transit throughout the territory of the Union, non-discriminatory access to the sea port infrastructure, laid down in the founding document of the EAEU, must be implemented in practice. This is the most sensitive issue for Kazakhstani business, without which it is very difficult to assess the benefits from the EAEU. I urge colleagues to be more flexible and constructive in the matter of providing accelerated and simplified transit, including using digital technologies,” Smailov said.

In conclusion, the Head of the Government of Kazakhstan expressed gratitude to his colleagues for mutual understanding and productive dialogue.

“I am convinced that the EAEU, while maintaining the commitment of its members to fundamental principles and in the current difficult conditions, brings economic benefits to all participants in the Eurasian economic integration. In turn, the Commission needs to find a balance between national interests and integration processes, and follow the path of developing economic integration on mutually beneficial terms for the EAEU countries,” summed up Smailov.

Zhaparov: Strengthening the stability of financial markets and increasing transport potential are important areas of work

Chair of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic Akylbek Zhaparov noted in his speech that the results of the first five months of this year show a positive trend in GDP growth.

“In January-May 2022, the volume of GDP of the Kyrgyz Republic amounted to 270.2 billion soms, and the real growth rate was 105.7%. The foreign trade turnover of our country in January-April 2022 amounted to $3 billion and increased by 43.3% compared to the same period last year. The growth of mutual trade with the member states of the integration association for 4 months of 2022 amounted to 16.3%, while exports grew by 26.4%, and imports by 13.3%,” Zhaparov said.

According to him, it is necessary to consolidate joint efforts to ensure the economic and financial stability of the Eurasian Economic Union and proposed a number of priority measures within the framework of this work.

“First, in the short term, it is necessary to introduce mechanisms to minimize the risks associated with a shortage of socially significant food products in the EAEU internal market. We are talking, among other things, about mechanisms for a coordinated policy to ensure food security, taking into account the paramount saturation of our own market,” Zhaparov emphasized.

The second measure the head of the Kyrgyz Cabinet outlined the accelerated restoration of broken cooperation business chains.

“Today, clothing and textile products manufactured in the Kyrgyz Republic are not inferior in quality and design to well-known manufacturers of branded clothing. There are enterprises ready to participate in projects for the production of environmentally friendly baby food, the development of mechanical engineering, the production of elevator equipment and components. In this regard, the decision we are making today to establish a commission on cooperation and import substitution in priority and high-tech industries within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union is very timely,” Zhaparov added.

In his opinion, the next priority measure is to strengthen the stability of the financial markets and economies of the member countries of the association to external shocks and create conditions for the effective mobilization and investment of financial resources.

“As part of the initiatives, a bond fund can also be established, a pool of financial resources that will be invested in bonds in the national currencies of the EurAsEC member countries. In addition, under the auspices of this initiative, it is possible to launch guarantee agencies for issuers of bonds in the national currency,” suggested Zhaparov.

On the issues of expanding the transit potential of the EAEU countries, Zhaparov said that in the context of global changes and the shift of the world economic center to the east, it is important to develop new logistics corridors and create transport systems that provide full transport connectivity.

In his opinion, increasing the transport potential of the Union has issues of developing a full-fledged railway infrastructure, covering all the member states of the Eurasian Union.

“One of the reasons hindering the disclosure of the potential of transport corridors is the lack of the necessary links of the railway infrastructure on the territory of individual EAC member states. The creation and further development of the railway transport infrastructure on the territory of the members will contribute both to the economic advancement of the member states and the development of world trade,” Zhaparov said.

Akylbek Zhaparov thanked the participants of the Eurasian Economic Forum, held in Bishkek on May 26, 2022, noting that this event made it possible to discuss very important areas for the development of economic integration.

“Concluding my speech, I would like to invite you to the next meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council, which will be held on the coast of our pearl — Lake Issyk-Kul, which has become a traditional place for our summer meetings,” Zhaparov summed up.

Nikol Pashinyan: Ensuring food security of the EAEU countries remains one of the most important tasks in the context of modern economic challenges

Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan delivered a welcoming speech at the expanded meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council.

As the Prime Minister of Armenia noted, the Eurasian Economic Union is entering the stage of unlocking its integration potential in the interests of creating a single economic space.

According to him, this is important for the sustainable economic growth of the EAEU states, strengthening competitiveness and effectively promoting its economic interests in the international arena.

Nikol Pashinyan in his speech emphasized the importance of dialogue to remove obstacles in mutual trade.

“The experience of recent years shows that a significant part of the obstacles that businesses face is the result of the lack of uniform rules for activities. Only readiness for dialogue, openness and transparency can help maintain positive dynamics in this issue,” he said.

The Head of the Government of Armenia also paid special attention to modern technologies. Without advanced digital tools, it will be difficult to compete, he said.

The Prime Minister of Armenia said that in the context of modern economic challenges, one of the most important tasks remains to ensure the food security of the EAEU countries.

“Currently, due to objective reasons, there are restrictions on the supply of certain types of agricultural products on the common agricultural market, which may adversely affect the stable functioning of agriculture in our countries and the food supply of the Union in general,” Nikol Pashinyan said.

According to him, the member states of the Union need to counteract the risks on a collective basis, minimizing the possibility of food shortages.

He also noted that a significant part of the obstacles faced by business is the result of the lack of unified, coordinated, harmonized rules of activity.

“I also consider it important to regulate the issue of the alcohol market. Establishing common goals and principles, common regulatory measures, can contribute to the creation of a common market without discriminatory restrictions and exemptions in mutual trade. For Armenia, this is a priority direction and has wide export opportunities,” Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan summed up.

Union states are fully self-sufficient in key types of food and agricultural products — Mishustin

Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Mikhail Mishustin noted that the trade turnover within the union is constantly growing and is outpacing trade with other states in terms of growth.

“Most recently, in May, we celebrated the eighth anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on the Eurasian Economic Union. For an international organization, this is a short time. But in a short time, the EAEU has proved its effectiveness and relevance, confirmed the ability to respond in a timely manner to various challenges and risks,” Mishustin said.

There are also good results in other key areas of cooperation - in industry, finance and agriculture.

“The most important thing is that the citizens of our countries feel the benefits of integration work in their daily lives. The head of the Russian state spoke about this when speaking at a recent meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council. It is important to ensure the further progressive development of Eurasian integration, to jointly overcome the consequences of the instability of the international economic system in the new difficult geopolitical reality,” the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation noted.

According to Mishustin, the pressure of the collective West on individual states of the "five" is intensifying. This affects all members of the union. Economies are closely connected, therefore, it is only possible to effectively respond to unfriendly steps together.

The main task is to minimize the impact of sanctions on citizens and strengthen macroeconomic stability. The necessary decisions are made as part of the implementation of a list of measures to improve the sustainability of economies. New initiatives are being actively discussed in the ad hoc high-level working group.

Mishustin dwelled on the most significant areas that should be given special attention.

First of all, in the current situation, work should be continued to create conditions for the normal functioning of the business. To this end, the rules of unified customs, customs-tariff, non-tariff and technical regulation are being adjusted.

In this regard, it is proposed to accelerate the transition to our own international financial and settlement mechanisms, to expand the practice of using national currencies in foreign trade operations with those countries that have proven themselves to be reliable partners.

“It is necessary to increase cooperation in the field of import substitution. We are talking about priority high-tech industries. We must reduce dependence on foreign supplies, launch our own joint innovative projects to develop and produce products in demand. It is necessary to use the competitive advantages of all members of the union. We consider cooperation in the field of computing power, aircraft manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals to be promising,” Mishustin noted.

Thus, it is proposed to intensify interaction on the digital agenda. The introduction of modern technologies reduces many types of costs. First of all, when exchanging information, making decisions and putting them into practice. One of the promising areas in this regard is the development of a digital marking system on the territory of the EAEU.

“We will continue to improve the regulatory legal framework for the internal and external trade of the union, coordinate our steps to counter the illegal circulation of industrial products,” Mishustin emphasized.

Another important topic is food security.

According to Mishustin, the states of the Union are fully self-sufficient in key types of food and agricultural products.

“At the same time, we will continue to protect the interests of our producers, stimulate import substitution, and create common markets in the agro-industrial complex. The sanctions policy of unfriendly countries has led to the disruption of logistics and trade chains around the world. This poses new challenges for us. Now it is important to accelerate the development of infrastructure, which will become part of the international transport corridors in the East-West and North-South directions. Including as part of the interface, colleagues talked about this, with the Chinese initiative “One Belt - One Road,” Mishustin explained.

The free movement of goods within the union, the absence of internal customs borders, integration in the field of transport and the fact that we have a developed infrastructure can become key advantages in global competition for transit.

Compliance with the principles of a market economy and fair competition are the fundamental norms of the Eurasian Economic Union, along with ensuring the four freedoms of movement: goods, services, capital and labor.

“We believe that it is impossible to slow down the pace of work launched at the site of the union as part of the climate agenda. The EAEU has significant potential for interaction here. And we need to speed up the preparation and adoption of a common policy on this track. We call on our partners to deepen cooperation on climate issues, including through a specially created high-level working group,” Mishustin said.

Uzbekistan supports removal of trade restrictions and strengthening of agro-industrial cooperation with the EAEU countries

During the meeting, Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan Jamshid Kuchkarov spoke on behalf of the Uzbek delegation participating as an observer.

The head of the Uzbek delegation noted the established close contacts with the commission, the prompt exchange of experience and information, noted the work of the formed Uzbek working group on the implementation of the joint action plan with the JAC for 2021-2023.

“We have started to analyze our technical regulations and standards. In general, we believe that the Roadmap developed jointly with the EAC and the participating countries will contribute to the improvement of competencies in various areas of cooperation. We are seeing a good growth in trade with all countries,” said Kuchkarov.

Also, the head of the Uzbek delegation recalled the initiatives voiced by the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev at a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council last year.

“In short, this is the removal of trade restrictions, the strengthening of agro-industrial cooperation with the EAEU countries, transport corridors,” said Kuchkarov.

According to him, the Uzbek side is primarily interested in further simplifying the procedures for regulating labor resources and employment in the territory of the EAEU countries.

In this regard, the Deputy Prime Minister of Uzbekistan, in the person of M. Mishustin, thanked the Russian side for the recently adopted decision to extend the stay of Uzbek citizens in the Russian Federation from 7 to 15 days, as well as the restoration of rail passenger traffic on two new routes.

“Uzbekistan counts on a mutually beneficial partnership with the EAEU, which meets common interests and builds interaction on the principles of equality, respect and consideration of the interests of all countries,” Kuchkarov said in conclusion.

The Prime Minister of Belarus called for the creation of corporations in the EAEU for joint production

Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko delivered a welcoming speech at the meeting of the Eurasian Intergovernmental Council.

“There are bottlenecks that are associated with existing national restrictive measures in the field of food products that violate the principles of free competition and free movement in the market for goods. Therefore, we will continue to work in this direction in order to remove the remaining problematic issues,” he said.

According to Golovchenko, the EAEU did not allow Russia and Belarus to be left face to face with difficulties. As the Head of the Government of Belarus said, a period of recession and turbulence, as well as socio-political cataclysms, has begun in the world.

“The situation in the world economy has changed. A new and apparently long-term period of economic turbulence has begun. Rising prices for energy resources, raw materials and goods are accompanied by a global surge in inflation, which beats long-term records all over the world. Almost all world centers tend to believe that the world is entering an era of a new economic recession. Numerous problems are becoming apparent, including the threat of famine in a number of regions of the world, which may be fraught with the next wave of socio-political cataclysms. A serious challenge for Belarus and Russia is the declared economic war, which is aimed at isolating our countries and splitting our union. However, thanks to the existence of the EAEU, we did not find ourselves face to face with difficulties,” he said.

Also, in the context of a long-term period of global economic turbulence, the head of the Cabinet of Ministers of Belarus called for the creation of corporations in the EAEU for joint production. To this end, Roman Golovchenko proposed to prepare a pilot project in this area.

He explained that such a project could become "one of the first samples of the so-called EAEU product." And in the future, the head of government believes, it will be possible "to create some kind of Eurasian consortiums, corporations that will ensure the joint production of products that are in demand in the markets of our countries."

Drawing attention to the serious changes in the world economy, Roman Golovchenko pointed out, in particular, “the rise in prices for energy resources, raw materials and goods is accompanied by a global surge in inflation, which is beating long-term records all over the world.”

Practically all world centers, he stated, are inclined to believe that the world is entering an era of a new economic recession. According to him, numerous problems are becoming obvious, including the threat of famine in a number of regions of the world, which may be fraught with the next wave of socio-political cataclysms.

He recalled that a high-level working group was quickly created to increase the stability of the economies of the EAEU member states. Measures are also being taken to ensure macroeconomic stability, including lowering import customs duties, granting tariff incentives for critical imports, streamlining customs administration procedures, and simplifying technical regulation requirements for a number of goods. As the head of the Cabinet of Ministers of Belarus noted, the measures taken are already yielding results.

“According to the results of mutual trade between Belarus and the EAEU countries in January-April 2022, there is an increase in trade by ten percent,” the head of the Cabinet of Ministers said.

Prime Minister of Belarus Roman Golovchenko expressed confidence that the parties would find a solution on all issues during the meeting and the meeting would contribute to the further qualitative growth of Eurasian integration.

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