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Supreme Eurasian Economic Council meeting

October 11, 2017, Sochi

A meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council took place in Sochi.

The meeting was attended by President of Russia Vladimir Putin, President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan Sapar Isakov, Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Economic Commission Tigran Sargsyan and President of Moldova Igor Dodon.

Topical issues of cooperation within the framework of  the Eurasian Economic Union were addressed. A package of documents was signed following the meeting.

The resolution On the Main Areas of Implementing the Digital Agenda of the Eurasian Economic Union until 2025 and the instruction On Cooperation of Member-States of the Eurasian Economic Union in Providing Space and Geoinformation Services on the Basis of National Sources of Earth Remote Sensing Data have been signed.

In addition, documents were signed on the entry into force of the Customs Code of the Eurasian Economic Union, rules of competition in trans-border markets, measures to prevent violations of common rules of competition, regulation of the activities of natural monopolies and a number of other organisational issues.

* * *

SEEC expanded meeting

President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,

I am pleased to welcome you once again to our meeting, including our guest, President of Moldova Igor Dodon.

We have just discussed in a restricted format the current aspects of the Eurasian Economic Union’s activity, reviewed the progress of our integration efforts and made a number of important decisions. We can confidently say that the Union is successfully functioning and developing.

Integration is having a positive impact on the pace of economic growth in our states. This year, the Eurasian Economic Union’s aggregate GDP has grown by 1.8 percent. Positive trends are also being reported in strategic production sectors: Industry saw 2.4 percent growth and agriculture was up by almost 1 percent; cargo and passenger traffic increased by 6.9 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively.

The Union’s foreign trade has increased by 26 percent while the trade surplus of export-import transactions exceeded $77 billion. The share of machinery, equipment and vehicles has reached 17.5 percent whereas the share of energy products has gone down to 28 percent.

Trade between the members of the Eurasian Economic Union has grown by 30 percent this year. This is a direct consequence of our successful efforts to establish a common market and common economic space within the Union.

We are convinced of the need to continue consistently removing restrictions on the free flow of goods, labour, services and capital between our states.

We should speed up our efforts to draft a roadmap on eliminating the existing barriers in industry, the agro-industrial sector, the energy industry and technical regulations.

The member-states of the Union should complete all domestic procedures for its new Customs Code to enter in force on January 1 as planned. In turn, the Eurasian Economic Commission should stay ahead of schedule in adopting technical decisions that are required for the practical application of the Code in trade between the Union members.

At the restricted meeting, we also endorsed an important document called Main Areas of the Union’s Digital Agenda Until 2025. Let me recall that the initiative to develop this document was put forth at the meeting of our Union last December. Russia is ready to take an active part in carrying out the digital agenda. This amounts to conducting a coordinated policy among Union members to develop the internet economy and adopt uniform standards for the exchange of information and its protection.

The decisions we are adopting today on developing cooperation in space and geoinformation services and merging the national systems of Earth remote sensing that are functioning in the Union states are also very important.

One of our key tasks is to upgrade the lending and financial infrastructure of the Eurasian Economic Union. We suggest making more effective use of the potential of the Eurasian Development Bank and the Eurasian Stabilisation Fund to boost the growth of our economies, as well as using their special mechanisms to consolidate the financial sustainability of the Union member-states.

We must pay special attention to promoting the Eurasian Economic Union in the world arena and developing its links with other states. In this context, we consider it important to develop closer cooperation with our CIS partners that are not members of our Union. Today we discussed this in detail, along with the need to establish an observer status.

We should also speed up the negotiations that have started on establishing free trade areas with those countries with which we agreed to do so and with which the Commission is already working. We attach much importance to the elaboration of draft cooperation agreements between the Eurasian Economic Union and these countries.

In conclusion, I would like to thank our friends from Kyrgyzstan for their extensive work during the country’s chairmanship of the Union this year. As the next chair, Russia is ready for intensive cooperation with all partners of the Union to further consolidate our integration association.

I will now give the floor to President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan.

President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan: First of all, I would like once again to thank Mr Putin for organising today’s summit and for the warm welcome. I would also like to thank our colleagues from Kyrgyzstan for Kyrgyzstan’s chairmanship of the Eurasian Union.

Colleagues, during the almost three years that the Eurasian Economic Union has been around, a considerable amount of work has been accomplished in applying in practice the principles of freedom of movement of goods, services, capital and workforce in the common market.

The legal foundation is being constantly expanded, the Union’s priorities have been defined, policy coordination in major economic sectors is ongoing, and the scope of the EAEU’s multilateral cooperation is steadily expanding.

In the first seven months of this year, the volume of mutual trade has increased by almost 28 percent, year on year. Between January and July 2017, Armenian exports to the EAEU countries’ market were up 29 percent, year on year. The total volume of the member states’ foreign trade with third countries grew by more than 26 percent. Mr Putin has cited a lot of figures that reaffirm the relevance of our decision.

It is necessary to consolidate this trend, ensuring its stability. We believe that to this end, it is necessary, first, to continue our joint efforts not only to identify but also to eliminate existing barriers and foster a business-friendly environment with unified rules of fair competition.

Working to expand the legal foundation, it is important to focus on adopting regulations that would enable economic entities to feel the positive effects of their adoption in practice.

Secondly, we expect the digital agenda to make our cooperation more transparent, improve efficiency and enhance the quality of services. We agree that this is a relevant matter and believe that it should be addressed by taking the following into account: the economic feasibility of projects, their integration component and its importance for our countries’ economies, taking into consideration the positive experience in the implementation of similar projects in Union member states, and an array of coordinated criteria that can be used to assess the extent to which these projects correspond to the member states’ interests, as well as the interests of the Union as a whole.

I believe that developing digital solutions could start with the mutual recognition of e-invoices. Since the recognition of invoices is a key issue for a large number of digital initiatives, including e-trade monitoring, I propose that the countries’ governments look into this matter together with the commission as soon as possible. It is also important that all subsequent actions on the digital agenda protect businesses from a possible increase in disproportionate administrative and financial burdens.

Another step towards strengthening the EAEU – and this is the third point – is cooperation on the international track. We act on the premise that cooperation between various integration associations both at the Union level and on an individual basis – naturally, with due compliance with the obligations we have assumed – can make an important contribution to fostering a complementary and mutually beneficial space without dividing lines for the good of all states.

We note with satisfaction that talks on a trade and economic agreement between the EAEU and China have essentially been completed. This became possible due to the experience in bilateral cooperation with China that our countries have accumulated. We believe that this cooperation format should help foster cooperation with the EAEU. Likewise, the EAEU’s cooperation in a particular area should enrich our countries’ bilateral relations.

We believe that the creation of a single Eurasian trade and economic space and transport corridor is possible by implementing major infrastructure projects, getting the EAEU, all of its member countries involved in the One Belt, One Road initiative. This will make it possible to minimise all existing infrastructural restrictions to integration and, as a result, put in place a system of interconnected transport routes.

I would also like to reiterate our commitment – I am sure that this is our shared position – to sign agreements with Iran in the immediate future. This matter was raised yesterday by the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Prime Minister of Armenia. I understand that they are ready to continue negotiations and complete them shortly.

In conclusion, I would like to inform you that yesterday, the Constitutional Court of Armenia considered the Treaty on the EAEU Customs Code. The document will be submitted to Parliament for ratification at the earliest date. We hope that in the future our countries will continue to deal with all issues in a constructive way for the benefit of our nations and for the prosperity of our countries.

Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Colleagues, we agreed in the restricted format that we have coordinated the main issues but even so, I gave the floor to Mr Sargsyan. If other heads of state would like to say something, to add something, please do so.

Mr Lukashenko.

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko: Mr Putin, your opening remarks, your exhaustive presentation, as well as Mr Sargsyan’s speech, do not make it possible to say anything new, so I cancel my presentation.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Mr Nazarbayev.

President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev: Everything has been said. We have discussed everything in detail and agreed that we will not have a discussion now but will sign the documents. We will give the floor to Mr Sargsyan and sign the documents, as we have already discussed everything.

Vladimir Putin: Does Kyrgyzstan have anything to add? No?

Mr Dodon.

President of Moldova Igor Dodon: Thank you very much, Mr Putin.

Colleagues, first of all, thank you for the invitation to attend a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council as a guest for the second time. I would like to point out that this meets the expectations of the majority of Moldova’s citizens.

I would like to reaffirm the position of the Republic of Moldova. We are committed to cooperation with new integration projects that are developing within the framework of the CIS and this certainly includes the Eurasian Economic Union.

There are several stages of cooperation: memorandum, observer status, free trade and membership. We have taken the first step. We have signed a memorandum. We are ready to consider the possibility of signing a free trade agreement, of course. We have applied for observer status at the Eurasian Economic Commission and we reaffirm our position. I hope that when appropriate procedural regulations are adopted, this decision will be formalised because it was already approved in principle in Bishkek.

Thank you very much.

Vladimir Putin: Thank you.

Mr Sargsyan, please.

Eurasian Economic Commission Board Chairman Tigran Sargsyan: Your Excellencies, colleagues,

We discussed our agenda at a restricted format meeting. It has been proposed that the topics we proposed for discussion in the expanded format be approved without a vote.

At the same time, we agreed that the next meeting of the Supreme Economic Council would be held next spring.

Thank you.

Vladimir Putin: Let us sign the approved documents.

(Documents are signed.)

Tigran Sargsyan: Mr Putin, we have completed the signing procedure.

Vladimir Putin: Colleagues,

I would like to thank all of you for the productive and substantive work. We have discussed nearly all subjects and considered all topics in the restricted format. I hope we will continue to work in the same spirit in the future as well.

I would like to wish the Commission and all our colleagues who are working within this format, that is, within the Eurasian Economic Union, to keep up this intensive work.

Russia will take over the chairmanship of the EAEU next year. I assure you that we will do everything in our power to boost the successful development of the EAEU.

Today Mr Nazarbayev proposed holding an unscheduled summit to discuss the development of digital technologies and the digital economy. We have supported this idea. We will coordinate the timeframe and the venue for this summit with Kazakhstan, and we will attend it gladly.

Nursultan Nazarbayev: Mr Putin, we do not need to hold a summit to do this. It can be a digital technology forum. We can discuss these issues at the level of our economic experts.

Vladimir Putin: All right, let us do it this way. Doing this at a working level will allow us to move forward in this vital area. Let us discuss this framework then and have this meeting.

Thank you once again.

October 11, 2017, Sochi